S/V Nereida sails around the world

Arrival in San Carlos... Blanca dies down as she heads N over the Baja

Wednesday 3rd June 2015: Landfall in San Carlos, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
{Monday 8th June - all looking fine, despite a very overcast, breezy day - TS Blanca has reduced to a Low and winds and rain here in San Carlos are not much, although over on the Baja peninsula conditions have been a bit stronger - but nothing too bad, TG!}
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
June 7th, 8:00
The friendly little swallows on the boat opposite me in Isla Mazatlan had fledged their nestlings . The closed stern barbecue conveniently had a hole at one end that was just the right size for them.. It seemed the right time to leave Mazatlan to head north again - the prospect of sailing overnight in the bright light of a full moon was appealing...

The hurricane season has started up with a vengeance - Andres obligingly turned out to sea, as expected, but was very early and increased to well over a hundred miles per hour... To my surprise, Blanca was hot on his heels and looking quite threatening, as I made my way up to the Sea of Cortez, in a good southerly swell. I'd spent a pleasant couple of evenings before leaving, firstly with cruiser friends and then with Osvaldo (skipper of 'Romance') and his family..

I was sorry Eduardo (skipper of 'Mi Casa') hadn't taken up my offer of a farewell 'cerveza' on my last afternoon. Both he and Osvaldo had been very keen to help me in whatever way they could, but Eduardo clearly didn't realise just how early I wanted to leave ..... By 7am, I was well underway, avoiding the dredger in the shallow entrance channel and hoping not to run into difficulties with the big swell over the entrance bar. The waves were crashing heavily into the nearby shore, coming from the S as a result of the hurricanes not so far away. Eduardo had appointed himself my Press Agent and I'd had two newspaper interviews and one TV interview by the time I had left - a severe test of the minimal Spanish I've been working hard at trying to improve.. Fortunately, Eduardo was close at hand with his good English, to translate when needed. My time in Mazatlan was made very enjoyable by the many friendly people I met up with (a wedding party included!) and I hope to return there soon.

My passage N was, as expected, full of motoring in increasingly calm seas with a diminishing S swell and occasional light breezes from just about every direction as the heat of the day caused an onshore sea breeze and; later; offshore land breezes. The mainsail had been raised from the start but I was only able to enjoy the peace of sailing a few times in all, with quite a nice downwind run under poled-out genoa, goosewinged for a few hours.
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Dolphins came by several times and. in the heat of the midday sun, I enjoyed a brief dip in the sea and a delicious deck shower within sight of San Carlos entrance and its familiar, distinctive, twin peaks . Other boats were only seen on arrival - surprisingly, I'd had the sea, sun and stars to myself for three days!

Now in harbour, I'm trying to find the cause of a major problem I had on passage - the toilet kept back-filling with sea water ... I had to turn off the outlet seacock to prevent the boat from flooding... Quite a worry, but a relief to see the water level in the bowl stay low in the end... I'm still trying to figure out what's going on. The other smaller problem was finding the motor stopping unexpectedly when I reduced power quickly (I was very gentle coming in to dock!). Luckily, there are two good mechanics here in San Carlos, so that problem should be easy to fix.. The other nice thing is the friends and acquaintances that are here - it has felt like a bit of a 'homecoming' having been here for most of last year when I met so many people - but I hope not to be on the hard again this time.

Blanca is still a worry and several boats have crossed over from the Baja peninsula to escape the very strong winds and heavy rain expected - far more so over there, to the West, than is forecast for here (Historically, San Carlos has been a good 'hurricane hole'). With any luck, Cabo San Lucas and the Baja won't be hit too hard. We were expecting some strong weather here also but the last I heard, Blanca will move out into the Pacific soon and not cause so much trouble on land as had been feared. ... Fingers crossed!  (Well, she actually came onshore at Cabo San Lucas and La Paz and on North, but diminished as she came - see above)

Arrival in Mazatlan: 9 May 2015

Report from Mazatlan: 19 May 2015

La Cruz de Juanacaxtle was left behind early in the morning on 8th May, with the idea of stopping at anchor overnight close to the small island of Isla Isabela - a bird reserve where frigates and boobies nest and lizards abound.  But my alarm failed and I left two hours later than intended - which meant that by the time I  got close to Isabela it was too dark to anchor - it was just not a safe option with all the rocks around.

I had the engine running and although I'd raised the main hopefully before leaving, there had been almost no wind all the way so far.  Speaking to the Pacific Seafarers' Net, I decided to cut the engine, hoping to reduce the noise on frequency - it made no difference!  I debated going a good distance off and trying to heave to (but little wind for that to work) or maybe I could just drift around until first light, when I'd be able to anchor and spend the day snorkelling and relaxing.

But the engine refused to start from the cockpit and made very unhappy noises each time I tried...  Eventually, I persuaded it to start but the incident made me feel it would be best to push on to Mazatlan overnight so problem could be looked at. Still very little wind so little chance to sail....

Fairway buoy, well off Mazatlan Harbour entrance channel, seen in the distance in second photo:m 20150508 143006   m 20150508 143041  

Distinctive hill at entrance to Mazatlan main harbour:

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Plenty of small islands along the coast, with shallows inshore, heading north of the old town:

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Small, but hard ....a !urking rock to be avoided!  View looking back to Mazatlan harbour entrance and old town:

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As I got within sight of the newer (small boat) harbour entrance mid-afternoon, having passed the old Mazatlan Harbour (used by larger vessels and the ferry over to the Baja peninsula) an hour or two earlier, the engine failed again, close to the rocky lee shore of Isla Pajaros with what was by now an onshore breeze blowing... My suspicion was lack of fuel, having heard the engine noise varying in pitch not long before - but, on checking, there was plenty in the tank, so I then suspected dirty fuel/clogged filter.  No time to investigate ... The genoa was quickly unfurled (the mainsail had already been dropped ready for entering harbour under motor) and I was able to sail gently away from immediate danger. Nice to be a sailboat, not a motorboat, in such situations!

The anchor was dropped not too far from where I could see the breakwater marking the entrance channel.  I changed the fuel filter (TG for an easy switch-over Racor system!) and tried the engine again, connecting the house batteries to the start battery for extra 'oomph'.... Initially, it still wouldn't start properly but eventually it started and kept going... (I'd begun to wonder if injectors were a problem) Friend Randy ('Spirit of Hanalei') had come out with two helpful Mexicans in a panga to give a tow but instead was able to escort me to a berth.  

The engine instrument panel had failed, along with its start switch, so it was good to be able to use a switch I'd installed on the start motor to avoid using a screw driver across the terminals(!). The Maztlan Port Captain had not been helpful over radio when he'd been asked for assistance, so I was lucky to have been able, quite by chance, to contact Randy on VHF radio (nice to have that working well now!)... and to have sandy shallows nearby to anchor in safety. (Was told early on that the tide was too low to enter over harbour entrance bar, so I had to wait two hours anyway) Would have been a difficult, although not impossible, unfamiliar marina berthing under sail with the strong afternoon onshore thermal wind. (There's little or no wind overnight, when it gets quite cool, nor in the mornings.)
Nearly forgot to mention that the main GPS had stopped working most of the way - but immediately worked fine when at the dock. (Why....?)  AIS was playing up all the way also - kept switching itself off - seems like an overheating problem.  Very frustrating since it was now supplying the missing GPS info to the instruments - so position info kept going down...  Nice to be well offshore then!  Another, more major, problem was that my small laptop refused to start up halfway through the passage.  It had been fine when I had sent out emails and got weather info via my lovely fast Pactor 4 modem and my HF radio but it then doggedly played 'dead' - and has done so ever since...   I'm trying to get a replacement battery, hoping that is what it needs...
Not surprisingly, I took Sunday off to go in by bus with cruiser friend Joy to explore and visit the indoor market:
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which is not far from the Cathedral:  
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Old Mazatlan's 'centro historico' is lovely, although many lived-in buildings with beautiful facades have ruined places just next door.  This one makes a feature of the overgrown building which has only been partly restored - for use as a lovely, well-shaded restaurant, complete with hanging vines and a photo of the original owner of what was once a grand mansion with a typical big courtyard behind the immense heavy wooden front doors....
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  It's a lovely restful area -  on a Sunday, at least!          m 20150510 162725 
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 Since then I've been busy with boat jobs, trying to shorten the list in between struggling with the poor Internet connection to get my website up to date and deal with emails etc.  (This update has taken most of today!)
My main worry was the engine and what also seemed to be both a charging problem and a start battery problem.  I kept a careful eye on the batteries, which were well down on arrival, and once they were reasonably well-charged (by just solar and wind since shore-charger has been dead for a long time now!), I was able to start the small generator to give them a real boost.  The start battery held its charge fine for several days, so I finally tried to start the main engine - using the cockpit switch... and it ran, first time of trying...!   The other good news was it was charging OK...  it didn't falter or stop... and I didn't have to use the switch on the start motor in the engine compartment...   Can't see why a clogged filter should have resulted in so many other problems - but I celebrated that night!!
In between, I topped up the fuel tank from the jerry cans and then gave the cockpit and the area all around a good clean - floor, drains, sprayhood(a.k.a. 'dodger') and windows are now all thoroughly dust-free.  The sun has been getting very hot by midday, so I've rigged a sunshade over the cockpit, but the nights are nice and cool, after the usual strong afternoon onshore breeze.
 Saturday's major job was persuading the life raft to move along the stern rail, away from the stern light and Hydrovane control line.  Took the energetic and noisy use of a rubber mallet along with a lot of determination not to give in - but eventually won the day and got it to move to a better position.  Went on to replace a third reef line, wired some shackles, and re-ran lines through mast-base sheaves to & through a turning block and clutches.  More work on replacing lines is needed.
Also had help from a friendly Mexican boat nearby... "Si quieres ayudar..."  said Oswaldo - so, needing some muscle, I took him up on his offer and they willingly helped with a problem I'd had while working on re-fixing the hard sprayhood to its steel support using some spacers.  Ended yesterday by replacing some bungy on the H'vane control line...  Nothing very exciting but all useful work that has been on my list for quite a time - so it was a satisfying weekend's work.
Went and had a good pizza with friends last night - made a change from Mexican and they do them well here!
Spanish is improving with use - nice to be able to chat to people, even though it's limited still.
Hope to get a few more things done over the next few days before heading further north - hurricane season is about to start up, so I need to get 'Nereida" out of harm's way..

March/April Update from Mexico

2nd May 2015 - Fiesta time in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle!
 

To San Sebastian (28th February - 2nd March)....

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is a friendly place and the marina has many helpful cruisers so it's been a good place to get work done.   Some boats were being prepared to sail to Polynesia when the weather was right for that (not until well into April, as it turned out) but it was great to take a break from boatwork and take advantage of a brief trip to San Sebastian organised by Philo of Philo's Bar in company.

It was my first time inland in Mexico since a trip to the Mayan remains at Chichenitza from the east coast (the Yucatan) in 2004  and I was impressed by the mountainous terrain we passed over, with its impenetrable jungle in many places.  San Sebastian is a small village high up in the mountains of the Mexican Sierra Madre.with his own band and a lively Latin group - Luna Rumba.                     We stopped off at a Tequileria and had a good time tasting a variety of tequilas, liqueurs and mezcal.  Tequila is made from the roasted crowns of blue agave in the state of Jalisco and the mezcal is made from yellow agave - to my mind, even the best was not as good as the 'anejo' (aged) tequila.

San Sebastian has an amazing variety of fruit and vegetables with lots of citrus trees, many of which were used to give shade in an interesting coffee plantation.    The low-tech coffee production was very interesting to see!   In addition, there were the tropical fruits and vegetables one expects here, along with a  colourful collection of flowers.  Being so high up, it has no lack of water.
The pleasant church had a museum nearby with an organ from England among its few exhibits...

My friends, Stuart and Karen, and I were in an old house just outside the village which originally had a silver mine close by and we had a lovely walk into the village, which grew up here because of the silver mining around.
                               

The evening was spent as a group in the courtyard of an old hotel off the town square.  
     We had a barbecue and enjoyed plenty of good music, some by the light of a camp-fire... It was good to get dancing - something I've been missing!

 There was a working silversmith in the village with three men busily making silver jewellery, often using the many semi-precious stones found in the area.  The workmanship was good and the prices low.

Mid-March ... to London for Hanson Lecture ....

- to give the annual Cruising Association's Hanson Lecture in Limehouse Basin, just off the Thames in East London's docklands area.  That was a very enjoyable evening in company with a friendly group of fellow-sailors.

England was basking in warm air, with blue skies a lot of the time I was there, and spring flowers were out in force.  It was a lovely time to be driving around the countryside and a trip down to Devon, with its steep-sided twisting country lanes with banks full of wild primroses and occasional cowslips and violets, was a real pleasure.

Mid-April - To Visalia, in  California...

... for the annual International 'DX' (long-range radio) Convention, where I spoke about my circumnavigations and my use of radio to over 550 diners after the final Saturday evening Banquet.  I had met up with several 'hams' at the Convention who had contacted me via HF radio on my way around - always a pleasure to meet up with the person behind the voice!   It was also good to renew acquaintance with people I already knew and very interesting to look at the many exhibits and chat to the people  making the equipment.

I'd spotted that the venue was close to Yosemite, a National Park I had often heard talked about in glowing terms, so I made a big effort to get there.  It was sad to see so many road-side mature trees dead or dying on my way there - the result of the present drought in California.  I spent an exhilirating day, first driving to Glacier Point for an overview of Yosemite Valley 
m IMG 0272   m IMG 0295    Dramatic high peaks and waterfalls ...

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I eventually went hiking high up in the Valley itself to well beyond Mirror Pool - a big loop trail.  What an amazing area!

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A well worthwhile visit, despite the resulting long next day's drive down to Phoenix to catch a flight early the following morning to Mexico.  I came eye-to-eye with a coyote early in the morning and then with a small woodpecker I crept up on later that afternoon - it was making good use of one of the many dead but still standing trees in the forest above Mirror Pool.

24/25 April 2015 - To a Mariachi Festival...

No sooner had I landed in Mexico than I was leaving heavy luggage with friends and then taking the overnight bus to Queretaro where I was met by friend Kyle ....  The annual Mariachi Festival in his lovely village of Mineral de Pozos had been (unfortunately for me!) moved from May to late April.... but it sounded too enjoyable to miss. 

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His village is surrounded by many, often dangerously-unfenced, mineshafts and related buildings, mostly dating from the 1800s, with some earlier.

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A mine-owner's grand house close to the mine workings - reminded me of a Victorian 'folly'!  

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 Mining was mainly for silver but several other metals were also brought up.   We spent a fascinating few hours driving around and walking in the area - keeping an eye out for edges of open-cast mines and mineshafts hidden by undergrowth.  (A 5-yr-old boy was killed recently falling down one - they are amazingly deep and a rescue team had trouble getting his body out)

On my first morning, I was delighted to come across a young Mariachi group practising in a beautiful old house for the evening Show.m IMG 0378 1

It turned out they were all around 19-20 yrs old and had come in from Chula Vista.   They played impressively well, and were coached by Mark, originally from a farming village near Seattle!!   His father's work had taken him to Guadalajara (where Mariachi music was born) at 13 yrs old and he had fallen in love with Mariachi music and effectively dedicated his life to it.

The Mariachi groups all played extremely well and with typical lively enthusiasm but a cold wind, that we were certainly not  dressed for, got up during the evening to test our stamina.... We were better prepared the following night!   The parents of one of the young group, who were sitting in front of us, were bursting with pride at their son's performance... with good reason!

They were thrilled to hear I'd video-ed their son's group practising and I promised to let them have a copy of both that and the evening performance, although the evening recordings were nothing like as good as the daytime one.  I was interested to see that all the groups generally comprised half violinists, with 2-3 guitar players (the bass guitar was always prominent, with a resonant beat), often a small harp, 2-3 trumpet players and at least 1-3 very good solo singers, with the whole group often joining in the singing....   with occasional group movements to the beat, of course - typically Mexican!

A two-hour drive was followed by a tour around the lovely old city of San Miguel de Allende (the birth-place of Mexican Independence from Spain!):
  

A tasty Mexican meal prepared especially by Kyle's friend, was followed by the overnight bus-ride back to the coast.   The buses are so well used in Mexico that the long-distance ones are very comfortable with good facilities, so I had a reasonable sleep both ways, helped by an empty seat beside me each time.   The route looked very convoluted on the map as a consequence of the rugged mountains of the Sierra Madre inland, nudging right up to the coast.   The two-lane, often bumpy, road certainly had frequent steep drop-offs at its edge outside towns and villages - best not to look too often as we swung around the bends at speed!


Last week, I took a bus around Puerto Vallarta -  I'd not explored that town since 2005!  The main church, with its distinctive 'crown' atop it, was beautifully light and airy inside, with a quite different exterior to another older church on the edge of town:
                 
                 
       

Work goes on.....

As I write this on board 'Nereida', I can clearly hear the music from the town square of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle - in fiesta all week long with crackers going off every day at dawn and dusk to annouce the festivities and a man carying a bull's head on his shoulders adorned with fire crackers and Catherine wheels he let off at frequent intervals charging around the town square, making people scatter, during a pause in the events.

Yesterday, the 2015 Queen was crowned and the music and dancing afterwards lasted until around 4am...    I joined in the dancing for a bit and got to bed rather late, well before they finished.   A 'Mexicubana' band, it was very popular (half Cubans, half Mexicans) and it was amazing to see how some couples moved and turned energetically at speed together to what was basically a 'pasa doble' rythm.

The good news after today's work was getting my VHF working properly again (repaired unit was brought back from UK with me), after a slight problem with connecting it all up correctly.  I think I've finished (for now!) with the instrumentation side of things - generator control panel has also been replaced, satphone GPS input located, after a search, and connected to system - which is now working (although not being made use of just now) - and plotter has been put back into position after being removed for access.

My windsteering system now has all new bushings and bearings - all the plastic parts had got very worn and there was a lot of play in the system.  Many thanks to Robert of 'Tillicum' for a lot of help in dealing with that for me and also to Sarah Curry for prompt mailing of certain parts, with others being well fabricated locally.

Plan is to leave here late next week for Mazatlan before heading further north, so my next big job is to check over the sailing side of things - sheets, running rigging all need sorting out  and deck gear (blocks, winches etc) need to be cleaned and lubricated before I sail away.

I'll post this text shortly but the many photos I'd have liked to post with it might take a time - Internet here is, to put it politely, very slow and unreliable!  (Photos finally posted over a week later - a lot of effort with an equally unreliable Internet wifi connection in Isla Mazatlan marina)

9Feb2015 - La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico

Monday 9 February 2015 - La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

A good visit to London for the January Boat Show where I gave two well-attended presentations on my sailing and saw several people about technical problems and replacement parts, with very helpful outcomes.  It was nice to meet up unexpectedly with good friends visiting the Show… and good fun ‘riding’ a Honda race bike on the new Show’s sponsors’ stand (CWMFX):

 

Before leaving for London, I had prepared 'Nereida' for my planned passage by tidying and stowing things away, as well as checking the engine and generator ….neither of which wanted to start!  Alejandro had come by that weekend to remove old impellor bits from the entry to the heat exchanger - even more bits were there than I'd expected, so that was a good job done.

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While I was in London, Jesus and Salvador saw to the two engines - and reported the start problem in both cases was due to corrosion which they were able to deal with fairly easily - but corrosion in several other areas on wiring and connectors was something I would need to check over on my return.

Back to Phoenix from LHR and then a drive on to Ajo with friends Ed and Charlene to get some sleep before crossing border into Mexico...  Up with the sun, hoping to arrive San Carlos mid-afternoon, but Mexican Customs wanted to charge an inflated amount of tax for their replacement ship's motor so we returned to Ajo to leave the motor behind and retraced our route through Arizona's fascinating 'Organ Pipe Cactus' National Park to the border and beyond, with some dramatic mountains just south of the border:

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We arrived well after dark, just in time to get fresh provisions at Santa Rosa's and then a meal at "L'Esquina" before making for the marina to get ready for leaving at High Water, soon after midnight.  It was essential to leave by 2 a.m., to be sure of getting out safely with Nereida's nearly 7ft draft, but there was a distinct lack of lit channel markers out from the marina entrance through Bahia San Carlos and the night was pitch dark with overcast skies, so it was nice to have Charlene's extra pair of eyes to keep a look out ...  Even so, we only just missed some new, unlit pilings where an extension to the present docks is being built out into the Bahia.

It was a relief finally to make clear water, having avoided both the shallows to starboard and some dark islands and rocks to port on our way out...   There was no wind so we were motoring and once further out into the Sea of Cortez (a.k.a. Gulf of California) there was a distinctly uncomfortable short swell which frequently made us roll about over the next two windless days.

Charlene was keeping me company for the 4-5 day nonstop sail south which meant we could keep a good watch overnight for the expected fishing boats and ferries en route.   In the event, almost none were seen but it was a nice trip down, with lovely clear starry skies at night and the seas slowly lessening. We got very excited on seeing a pair of whales close by and lots of dolphins and seabirds another time.  This area is well-known for its marine life.

The tides had quite an effect on our speed which ranged from 4.7kt to 6.3kt.  Up in the far N of the Sea of Cortez, the tidal range is 20ft or so, with currents of up to 11 kt in some inter-island passages, but as we headed further S the tidal effect lessened.  On the last day, some wind arrived as we approached the islands of 'Las Marias'. so we finally had a nice peaceful sail into the night, with a beautiful sunrise over Banderas Bay as we got close to the small rocky Marietta islands in the entrance.

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We made La Cruz de Juanacaxtle early on 28th January and soon met up with Canadian friends Maggie and Tom, who had flown in to Puerto Vallarta the day before to cruise with me on 'Nereida' for a time.   It's been a very nice change to have company on board!  Being boat-owners themselves, Tom and Maggie have helped me with several boat jobs, one being replacement of the corroded antenna lead to my backstay in an effort to resolve an urgent on-going problem:  the HF/SSB radio has totally lost transmission power.

 A ham friend, Don N7BD, has kindly sent me a Watt meter to instal in the system and Dan of 'Dazzler' came over with a long coax lead to test the connection directly between my radio and the tuner - the radio transmission was booming out...!  Conclusion?  ...Corrosion in one or more of my coax connector(s)?

(Today I had a lot more help from Eric, from s/v 'Scoots', using my new SWR/Watt meter with a dummy load and checking all connections.  There seems to be a ground problem to the tuner – sometimes it tunes, sometimes not - and I spent all afternoon removing cables, a shelf and lots of other items around the radio, to gain access to what seems to be the possible faulty connection.  "Work in progress...!"  Postscript on Friday 13th Feb: All now working fine, with more much-appreciated help from Eric.  Turned into a bad ground connection in two places, a cable and the tuner connection, both now dealt with - so I can now make good radio contact, although the Marina causes a lot of noise.  Winlink is now also working fine, using the new Pactor 4 'Dragon' modem and a bluetooth connection - so we're back in action...Making use of the new SWR meter - Many thanks to Don, N7BD.  If I hadn't gone down with a bad cold, with loss of voice and a sore throat over the last few days, all would be good - but recovery must take place soon and I've been getting lots of sleep to help things along)

With Maggie and Tom, we sailed over to Yelapa last Wednesday, on the opposite side of Banderas Bay from La Cruz...  What a delightful village!  It has only had electricity for two years now and its steep, cobbled, narrow, winding streets cannot take any cars. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of building work going on by N. Americans, renovating dilapidated old village houses to use over the winter period when it's cold and icy back north where they live!   We walked up to where a high waterfall tumbles over a steep cliff into a pool, surrounded by high trees on the edge of the village - a beautiful green spot.   The busy coast road passes quite a distance away, at the end of a steep path, so the main approach is by sea.

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Lots of tourist 'pangas' bring people for the day from elsewhere in Banderas Bay to enjoy a long sandy beach opposite the village at the river entrance in the bay.  We picked up a mooring buoy in 50m/160ft depth of water close inshore - anchoring here is difficult with the sea-bed dropping away so steeply and small fishing boats moored in the small area of shallower water close to the main village.  The weather was fairly calm but the small bay in which the village lies is open to big swells when the wind gets up.   We had an enjoyable two nights there and I vowed I'd return soon.  On the way back to La Cruz, we had good sightings of several pairs of whales (a couple breached) as well as dolphins and a turtle, in addition to the usual frigate birds, boobies, gulls and pelicans.

Now I'm alone again, it's back to boatwork in the daytime - but there's plenty of excellent live music of an evening here in La Cruz.  Sunday evening was spent with friends Robert and Rose of 'Tillicum' at the 'Black Forest' restaurant - with fabulous classical guitar-playing by 'Lobo' during the entire evening.  There are several good places to eat here and I keep meeting up with cruiser friends last seen in San Carlos.  The weather is mostly dry and sunny, with just the occasional heavy rainstorm - as we had early last week....   So I'm looking forward to a nice mix of productive daytime work and plenty of evening music over the next few weeks here.

Season's Greetings - from 'Nereida' afloat in San Carlos!!

20th December 2014 - 'Nereida' happily afloat... Happy New Year!

Seasons greetings Nereida lit up - showing new hard top

Sending you the warmest of Season's Greetings and wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year 2015...  from 'Nereida' decorated with a string of coloured LEDs...

It's great to be afloat at last, even though it's in a marina, still with lots to do...   There's a problem here for deeper-draught boats and 8th December was the last possible date for 'Nereida' to be launched for quite a time.  So it was vital to be 'splashed' now, in order to be able to go sailing at all over the coming months.

Photos of the short road trip: leaving Marina Seca, onto the main road close by, down to the marina ramp - all being pushed 'backwards', ahead of the tractor driven by Jose-Maria...:

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4.Onto the main road by Marina Seca

m5 m6

 m7 Afloat ..... at last!! m8

To celebrate, I invited yardworkers Jorge, Pepe and Edgar and their families to join me on board 'Nereida' the following Saturday afternoon with the idea of taking them all out for a sail after a good lunch. (They've never been out on a sailing vessel, despite all their years of working on boats in the yard...)  I had a lot of work to do, clearing things away and tidying up to make room for twelve people eating down below and in the cockpit! (Photos show chaos in the main cabin and in the cockpit when we were about to leave the yard - made worse by having had to retrieve lots of gear from a storage locker...  I'm busy now working through everything on board, hoping to reduce the excess and make space for visitors!)

mChaos in main cabin mCockpit chaos while on the hard

I had a nasty shock when hoisting the staysail and finding I'd managed to crease the luff in the track on the foil... It proved impossible to budge it up or down, so I folded/furled it up as best I could, leaving the halyard slack, and then got help from my willing neighbours to hoist the genoa in the hope of using it during the Saturday outing...  (A few days later, a cheerful local rigger, Carlos, came to help me - and pulled the staysail down with very little effort - a big relief!!)

The usual scenario in the afternoons is for a N wind to pipe up strongly here, usually after a flat calm overnight and during the mornings, and I suspect my visitors were slightly worried about the possibility of the wind making 'rough' seas and causing seasickness - I later heard that Pepe had asked someone for pills, just in case!   I switched on the instruments in preparation for leaving the dock - and saw very little depth of water ... I'd totally forgotten about the shallow water in the marina and that LW was in the afternoon!  I checked with a knowledgeable neighbour - sure enough, the word was not to even think about leaving ...  I'd be sure to go aground in the marina entrance - either on the sand bar there or on an unmarked rock close by to its S....  (Friends Ben and Lucie, in 'Georgia'went aground on that same sand bar twice a week or so ago... despite their relatively shallow draught!!)   ... So my planned outing didn't happen - but we enjoyed the afternoon on board, despite that.

As is so often true, I've found people here to be really friendly and helpful...  Garth (originally from USA but with Mexican family across the Sea of Cortez in Mulege) has been very supportive - got my outboard properly serviced by Umberto, gave me some 'magic liquid' he guaranteed would unstick a well-stuck-down turning block on deck, sent rigger Carlos over to me to help with the jammed staysail, and also made sure mechanic Alejandro came to undo the seawater cooling pipe leading to the heat exchanger, where I knew I had bits of impellor stuck - ready to cause me a problem at some point, when running the engine...   I was amazed to see just how many broken bits of impellor flanges were there when Alejandro finally got to my engine yesterday (having been to the wrong marina at least twice over the week!) ... LOTS more than just the one impellor that had broken while battery-charging in the Southern Ocean last year...!:

 20141219 100040 20141219 100238 - gasket needs replacing Of course,the gasket needed changing but I have no spare - a tube of liquid gasket proved useful until I get another...  Alejandro reminded me I should have a spare injector or two, also...  And a small filter placed in the seawater pipe would be useful for easily extracting future impellor bits...

I've been working hard at improving my Spanish recently - of necessity, since many locals have little or no English.  It's satisfying to be able to communicate better with them.

With Christmas and the New Year so close, there's been a lot of movement in and out of the area & several friends on boats have left recently, but fortunately a few others will remain.  In particular, Ed and Charlene will be here - we're hoping to go out for a sail on 'Nereida' over Christmas Day - that would be great!  Ed spent quite a time with me today, looking over some problems on board with a view to helping me, which is greatly appreciated.  He'll be back tomorrow with tools.

The Internet here is awful - often impossible to make a good connection, so I tried to get my Bullet antenna working, to a wi-fi router...  Gustavo came by - and proved to be very helpful.  He got it working at one point, using a spare data cable I bought recently, but it's misbehaving again and needs more work.

My Christmas (and New Year) present to myself will be to get 'Nereida' better organised and sorted out!!  Despacio, despacio ...!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!  Feliz Navidad y Buen Ano Nuevo!!

More news from Marina Seca, San Carlos

27th November 2014 (US Thanksgiving)  

             20141123 180019   

Work continues in sunny but dusty San Carlos where the sliver of a new moon appeared in the lovely sunset sky over the distinctive two peaks last Sunday.

Some good work has been done over the last two weeks - the boat is looking much smarter (I even hosed the dust off the decks tonight) and I’m feeling a lot happier!   It’s great to have so many friendly, helpful people around – typical boating community here, with everyone helping one another…  (Particular thanks to Tony & Patsy of 'Forbes & Cameron'  and Brunton's in U.K. for getting a much-needed greasing nipple to me via San Diego for my Autoprop.  Also to Alain of ‘Blue Moon’,  and Ed of ‘Panacea’ - and the cheerful yard workers who have often been very helpful as well)

Five layers of a barrier coat were applied in quick succession to the underwater section Friday fortnight ago, after thorough sanding, and then a light sanding was followed by four coats of Coppercoat on the following Wednesday.   Then the low loader came along early on Monday to raise “Nereida” slightly so the blocks under her keel, as well as the supporting stands, could be moved for the process to be repeated in the uncoated places - including under the flat base of the keel (where a Black Widow spider was found on moving the wooden supports!).   

Having thoroughly primed the yard workers on the procedure beforehand - and making sure only the most experienced of them was involved - it all went beautifully smoothly, with two on each side (Jorge with Edgar and Pepe with Miguel) and Adriano mixing the batches with me helping.  Ed of 'Panacea' also gave a helping hand - he'll be applying Coppercoat to his boat and was interested to see how it all went.  It certainly created a lot of interest from nearby boat owners, other yard workers and staff of Marina Seca here in San Carlos, Mexico.  The thought of 10-12 years of no antifouling being needed raised a lot of comment!   (Photos below)

 In between that and finishing wind generator wiring, I’ve been busily painting the aft cabin bunk tops with a two-part epoxy sealant for protection, the main problem turning out to be the excessively long time taken for each coat to harden, meaning only one coat per day was possible.  I’d naively hoped to get the job completed over last weekend, since the days are still very warm, but it’s only just finishing.   With both sides of seven boards involved the job will have lasted 8 days - hopefully, they can be put back in place this weekend so the aft cabin can be organised and cleared up....

The newly completed wind generator installation has proved useful - in the usual afternoon thermally-induced winds, the rotor is whizzing around so the house batteries are regularly at a healthier voltage now.  (My 220-240V shore charger refuses to accept the high input voltage of 270V coming from the 2:1 transformer resulting from the mains power at 135V here.  I’m often having to borrow 110V equipment to do work via an extension lead in the yard.)

The new hard sprayhood over the companionway (known as a hard ‘dodger' in N.America) is looking good - the shape is identical to my old canvas awning, with Lexan windows.   The glazing sealant gave Jorge quite a problem - it’s silicone and cures to be very strong, but is difficult to apply all around and behind the windows, being runny but skinning over within 20 minutes, giving very little time to smooth it and remove the masking tape around while maintaining the positive pressure on the window for the week it needs to cure.  The stainless steel fixings - front-plates and backing-plates - have given me a lot of work in preparing to instal them, with difficult access to where each of the two backing-plates go.

A Thanksgiving ‘potluck’ Dinner was organised by ‘Shamaness’ here outside the yard last night - it included the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie and I was delighted to find some unexpected fresh-mashed potatoes - a change from tortillas!  Two good guitarists played later and we all relaxed after the day’s boatwork - all very enjoyable!

                20141119 082542

We got going soon after 8:30am ......

                20141119 083656

                20141119 084001

                20141119 084045

Miguel and Edgar get started :

                 20141119 084116   

Jorge and Pepe relax in between coats:     

                 20141119 110610

                  20141119 110642

Waiting for the third coat to dry...

                  20141119 110736 

                  20141119 110842

Edgar pays careful attention to the rudder area while Ed checks around the propellor and (rope) Stripper:

                  20141119 110847

Jorge and Pepe were delighted to have finished all four coats by midday - in time for lunch!

                  20141119 120410

Monday morning, after several days for drying out, the low-loader came to lift 'Nereida' slightly so the blocks beneath, and the side supports, could be moved to complete the coatings:

                  20141124 080922

                  20141124 081516

The Autoprop has been thoroughly cleaned off to bare metal, ready for Propspeed coating to be applied - I had been waiting for the greaser nipple and the bearings were thoroughly greased once it came - an easy operation.

A Black Widow spider was found lurking on one of the blocks moved ...!

                           20141124 081358

                  

                  

                                 

 

More news from Marina Seca, San Carlos

27th November 2014 (US Thanksgiving)

Work continues in sunny but dusty San Carlos where the sliver of a new moon appeared in the lovely sunset sky over the distinctive two peaks last Sunday.

Some good work has been done over the last two weeks - the boat is looking much smarter (I even hosed the dust off the decks tonight) and I’m feeling a lot happier!   It’s great to have so many friendly, helpful people around – typical boating community here, with everyone helping one another…  (Particular thanks to Alain, of ‘Blue Moon’, and Ed, of ‘Panacea’ - and the cheerful yard workers have often been very helpful, also.)

Five layers of a barrier coat were applied in quick succession to the underwater section Friday fortnight ago, after thorough sanding, and then a light sanding was followed by four coats of Coppercoat on the following Wednesday.   Then the low loader came along early on Monday to raise “Nereida” slightly so the blocks under her keel, as well as the supporting stands, could be moved for the process to be repeated in the uncoated places - including under the flat base of the keel (where a Black Widow spider was found on moving the wooden supports!).   

Having thoroughly primed the yard workers on the procedure beforehand - and making sure only the most experienced of them was involved - it all went beautifully smoothly and certainly created a lot of interest from nearby boat owners, other yard workers and staff of Marina Seca here in San Carlos, Mexico.  (Photos below)

 In between that and finishing wind generator wiring, I’ve been busily painting the aft cabin bunk tops with a two-part epoxy sealant for protection, the main problem turning out to be the excessively long time taken for each coat to harden, meaning only one coat per day was possible.  I’d naively hoped to get the job completed over last weekend, since the days are still very warm, but it’s only just finishing.   With both sides of seven boards involved the job will have lasted 8 days - hopefully, they can be put back in place this weekend so the aft cabin can be organised and cleared up....

The newly completed wind generator installation has proved useful - in the usual afternoon thermally-induced winds, the rotor is whizzing around so the house batteries are regularly at a healthier voltage now.  (My 220-240V shore charger refuses to accept the high input voltage of 270V coming from the 2:1 transformer resulting from the mains power at 135V here.  I’m often having to borrow 110V equipment to do work via an extension lead.)

The new hard sprayhood over the companionway (known as a hard ‘dodger' in N.America) is looking good - the shape is identical to my old canvas awning, with Lexan windows.   The glazing sealant gave Jorge quite a problem - it’s silicone and cures to be very strong, but is difficult to apply all around and behind the windows, being runny but skinning over within 20 minutes, giving very little time to smooth it and remove the masking tape around.  The stainless steel fixings - front-plates and backing-plates - have given me a lot of work in preparing to instal them, with difficult access to where each of the two backing-plates go.

A Thanksgiving ‘potluck’ Dinner was organised by ‘Shamaness’ here outside the yard last night - it included the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie and I was delighted to find some unexpected fresh-mashed potatoes - a change from tortillas!  Two good guitarists played later and we all relaxed after the day’s boatwork - all very enjoyable!

More news from Marina Seca, San Carlos

27th November 2014 (US Thanksgiving)

Work continues in sunny but dusty San Carlos where the sliver of a new moon appeared in the lovely sunset sky over the distinctive two peaks last Sunday.

Some good work has been done over the last two weeks - the boat is looking much smarter (I even hosed the dust off the decks tonight) and I’m feeling a lot happier!   It’s great to have so many friendly, helpful people around – typical boating community here, with everyone helping one another…  (Particular thanks to Alain, of ‘Blue Moon’, and Ed, of ‘Panacea’ - and the cheerful yard workers have often been very helpful, also.)

Five layers of a barrier coat were applied in quick succession to the underwater section Friday fortnight ago, after thorough sanding, and then a light sanding was followed by four coats of Coppercoat on the following Wednesday.   Then the low loader came along early on Monday to raise “Nereida” slightly so the blocks under her keel, as well as the supporting stands, could be moved for the process to be repeated in the uncoated places - including under the flat base of the keel (where a Black Widow spider was found on moving the wooden supports!).   

Having thoroughly primed the yard workers on the procedure beforehand - and making sure only the most experienced of them was involved - it all went beautifully smoothly and certainly created a lot of interest from nearby boat owners, other yard workers and staff of Marina Seca here in San Carlos, Mexico.  (Photos below)

 In between that and finishing wind generator wiring, I’ve been busily painting the aft cabin bunk tops with a two-part epoxy sealant for protection, the main problem turning out to be the excessively long time taken for each coat to harden, meaning only one coat per day was possible.  I’d naively hoped to get the job completed over last weekend, since the days are still very warm, but it’s only just finishing.   With both sides of seven boards involved the job will have lasted 8 days - hopefully, they can be put back in place this weekend so the aft cabin can be organised and cleared up....

The newly completed wind generator installation has proved useful - in the usual afternoon thermally-induced winds, the rotor is whizzing around so the house batteries are regularly at a healthier voltage now.  (My 220-240V shore charger refuses to accept the high input voltage of 270V coming from the 2:1 transformer resulting from the mains power at 135V here.  I’m often having to borrow 110V equipment to do work via an extension lead.)

The new hard sprayhood over the companionway (known as a hard ‘dodger' in N.America) is looking good - the shape is identical to my old canvas awning, with Lexan windows.   The glazing sealant gave Jorge quite a problem - it’s silicone and cures to be very strong, but is difficult to apply all around and behind the windows, being runny but skinning over within 20 minutes, giving very little time to smooth it and remove the masking tape around.  The stainless steel fixings - front-plates and backing-plates - have given me a lot of work in preparing to instal them, with difficult access to where each of the two backing-plates go.

A Thanksgiving ‘potluck’ Dinner was organised by ‘Shamaness’ here outside the yard last night - it included the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie and I was delighted to find some unexpected fresh-mashed potatoes - a change from tortillas!  Two good guitarists played later and we all relaxed after the day’s boatwork - all very enjoyable!

San Carlos Report - 5th Nov 2014

Back to San Carlos via Phoenix, to work on 'Nereida'

            20141016 153658                20141016 162312       

                           AYC talk 14Oct2014                        IMG 4184

Spoke at Arizona Yacht Club meeting in Tempe, by Phoenix, on Tuesday 14th October, before heading on down to San Carlos.  A great audience at my talk . and a fun time the Sunday beforehand, sailing a Laser on Tempe Lake, in bright sunshine. Strong gusts capsized me twice - but water was fresh and warm, so swim was quite pleasant... Safety boat came to my rescue - I was just not heavy enough to get boat up again each time, despite all my efforts heaving on the end of the centre board!

Busy again now in Marina Seca, San Carlos - trying to get into 'Mex mode' to avoid stressing myself out over time taken to get nowhere...  But my bow thruster streamlining projecthas been nicely smoothed and finished off by Pepe and Adriano. (No - I didnt want one, but since its there, might as well prevent the loss of speed the tunnel must have caused).

         20141029 140801          20141029 140750

Had help installing replacement steering bearings and cables (with new greasers) and (replacement) new wind generator - wiring needs to be finished and hub plus blades to be put in place.

Also installed a Halyard Exhaust Alert in exhaust hose, with cockpit display - hoping never to have engine damaged by overheating in future.  Wiring of alarm and junction box needs completion but its not difficult - just needs me to find time to get to it.   (Photos show sensor inside hose and outer connection to junction box)

         riser sensor 4 2             20141026 090233         20141026 090212            

With aft cabin turned upside down for access to wiring, Ill complete work there before replacing newly-cleaned bunk tops and tidying up - means main cabin and forepeak are jammed up, making moving about difficult.   Hard awning/dodger is also needing some more careful thought - spent time making patternsfor steel plates and straps to attach it firmly.   Jorge has been mproving the inside finish in places with fresh gelcoat.

Found an empty (i.e. leaked!) bottle of epoxy hardener all over forepeak floor ... grrr!!  Have spent time cleaning up a big mess, chasing up replacement and organising travel to/from Tucson to pick it up quickly - this weekend, I hope, ready for applying Coppercoat next week.  Have scheduled launch for 24th Nov so need to get it done, along with Propspeed application to prop and propshaft, plus dealing with anything else below waterline.

Hot now in sun around midday, but has suddenly become very cool in the evenings and overnight - having to get out warmer bedding. (Debated getting out socks last night, uncovered feet felt so cold!)  No shore power input - not too surprisingly, charger is malfunctioning with high input voltage (132V, instead of 120V!) - yet another problem that was NOT on my list of expected boat work!  Having to rely on solar power to keep batteries charged - three wires needed new sections added to eliminate loss of output power due to corrosion.

Took last weekend off to relax and go sailing in Tucson S.C. Regatta here in San Carlos - lovely to get out on the water Friday - Sunday, with parties each evening.  Many thanks to Peter and Judy Burgard for inviting me to join them, with their son Alan, as their guest for the Regatta racing on Bandito, with its distinctive Halloween’ spinnaker in black & orange adding interest on the downwind legs!

Large moths are out in force in the evenings they seem to enjoy settling upside down on theinside of glasses to drink the beer! 

Friends Robert and Rose finally enjoy Tillicumbeing launched - after two years of hard work on a total refit - she looks beautiful - happy people!!   Im envious!

                                        20141030 094247                                         

 

 

Hot work on the hard...

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...