May 2010: Time to get out of Mazatlan

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Anyway, I found a Pep Boys while looking for breakfast, and bought a good three-leg six inch gear puller.

I have desperately needed one of these about four times since I got to Mexico. I had a smaller one, but when the shaft coupling broke big time I needed a six incher. Of course, the prop shaft and coupling has been rock solid since Abel and his brothers fixed it in La Paz, and I'll probably never need it again. But I saw Harold Miller (LF39 Sea Bear) in La Cruz, and he needed one while rebuilding his windlass. These things come in really handy.


I picked up some Hypalon handles and heavy duty padeyes for towing the dink. The original handles were rope, attached to the dink with nylon loops, and the nylon completely rotted off in the sun. The original towing rings were starting to crack. I've been using them to hang the dink upside down over the foredeck, and the stress was in the wrong direction. Oops.

While the glue was out, I also patched some teeny leaks in the inflatable floor. The leaks were really slow, but required the floor to be pumped up every few weeks. The floor is nearly triple the pressure of the rest of the dinghy. When it drops in pressure the whole thing starts acting like a waterbed. That can be fun, but also can toss you right out of the boat.

It isn't pretty, but hopefully it will last. Surface prep is key, masking, sanding and wiping with Acetone or Tuelene. Once the cement is applied, the dink should be deflated for a week so the cement will fully cure.



While in San Diego I found a Fry's Electronics, and picked up a few hundred neon zip ties.

I've given up on paint. The last paint job only lasted a year, and I kept picking paint chips off the foredeck. However, some zip ties I put on six years ago are still hanging on. My code is pretty simple: 1 yellow stripe at 20 feet, 2 at 40, 3 at 60, etc. When I get to 100 I start over: 1 at 120, etc. The orange between the yellow might not have been such a good idea. We'll see.



Horror of horrors. Look at my BBQ. Anyone who knows me knows that I can't live without a BBQ.

Fortunately, I picked up enough spare parts to put it back together.

The burner itself was so rusted out that when I tried to remove it it crumbled into a little pile of dust. The base, though, is 1/8" thick brass, and it was well seized onto the threaded gas line. I finally cut it off with my Handy Dremel Tool, and was able to thread a new one on.

This should get me through the summer. A new BBQ is definitely on my list for the fall.



While in San Diego, I picked up a length of good 1/8" double braided rope. You normally use this for racing dinghies, and I haven't been able to find it in Mexico. I used it to replace the cheap nylon pull cord on the outboard.

I've already had one pull cord break, and it didn't break nicely. The first one snapped in the middle, and the remaining part wrapped itself around the engine and completely stripped the entire starter spring assembly. That was a drag. After three days of work trying to rebuild the stupid spring, I gave up and had Mark Goetz bring down an entire new $80 spring starter. I noticed that the cheap nylon pull cord began to wear out within a month.

This good double braided rope should handle the job much better,
and won't chafe through.


Since I'm in a marina, and don't have any idea when I'll be in a marina again, I did some engine maintenance.

All the fluids were replaced: Oil, Transmission, Coolant. It's going to be a hot summer, and it's good to know that the engine is protected.

I also replaced the raw water impeller.

The raw water impeller is critical. It pumps sea water into the heat exchanger, which is like a radiator that uses sea water instead of air. If the impeller breaks, it won't just stop pumping; it can let bits and pieces of the impeller flow back into the heat exchanger, and block it.

Over the course of my life, I've lost two car engines to overheating, and have become somewhat neurotic about maintaining the cooling system. Heck, I've even installed backup temperature and oil pressure gauges in the nav station.

I have a V Drive, so the engine is mounted backwards, and servicing the raw water pump means pulling everything out of the cockpit locker. The pump itself is made by Sherwood, and it's not a very practical design.
At the dock, it takes me six hours to take it apart and put it back together, because there's barely enough room to work.

So, I replace the darn impeller once a year whether it needs it or not, because the last thing I ever want to do is try and rebuild it at sea with the boat bouncing all over the place.


I changed my plans for getting north, and am going to head straight over to the west side of the Sea of Cortez, then move north. The east side is a bit shallow, and there aren't many places to hide. Storm season is officially starting in two weeks, and some people say it has already started. Realistically, big storms don't swing north until later in the season, but it's time to be careful.

Besides, most folks have already left, and no one is heading up the east side any more. So if I get into trouble, there won't be anyone within radio range. Thus, west side it is.

The next town with food will be Santa Rosalia, hundreds of miles away. I'm stocking up on canned goods, dry goods, beans, rice, boxed milk, tequila, and anything that's cheaper on the mainland.

I've also loaded up on meat and chicken, which is vacuum sealed in foodsaver bags and stuck in the freezer. This stuff should be good for a couple of months this way. I expect to be eating a lot of fresh fish, so this needs to be stored to last.


I've started checking all my eggs. If an egg floats, it's gone bad.






Finally, it's time go go. Or rather, it would have been, if I hadn't been hit with a case of the 'Super-Touristas.' I guess that you can still get hit, even after this long in Mexico. For a couple of days, I thought we were having a real heat wave. Then I discovered that I was running a fever of 100F. The rest of the symptoms followed soon after. It took a week to start to clear up, and I finally resorted to antibiotics.

I'm about to single hand this boat for 190 miles to the next stop, which means staying up for 40 hours or more. It's important to be healthy and rested before starting.

May 22 -- The boat's ready, and the breezes are forecast to be 10-17 for the next few days. As I walked over to pay the bill and check out, the harbormaster raised the red flag. That means the port is closed for entry and exit. Arrgh.

The Mazatlan entrance has a tricky dog-leg, with a sand bar. When the surf is over six feet, they close the entrance to keep people from getting pushed onto the rocks. Darn. I'll just have to wait it out. As soon as it's open, I'll probably just go anchor behind Deer Island and wait for the right breezes again.

May 23 - Darn. Ten Foot Surf. The entire entrance is one big ten foot breaking wave. It should lay down in a couple of days. I have a deep spade rudder, which is a good thing for sailing, but *sucks* if hobby-horsing over a shallow bottom. I'll wait.

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Funny thing. Before I left the USA, a friend said "It's not a question of IF you'll get ripped off, it's a question of when."

Well, I finally got ripped off -- when I returned to the USA. I had to run north. My visa ran out, and I had a huge list of needful things that can't be found in Mexico. After lining everything up over the internet, I had a big pile of stuff waiting at Downwind Marine in San Diego.

Anyway, after a whirlwind day of running around shopping, I was unloading the rental car at the hotel. Someone swiped my little leather belt pack out of the front seat while my back was turned. All they got was a handful of Peso coins and my pocket Spanish-English dictionary. Unbelievable. I miss that dictionary.