November 2010 - Repairs, Projects and good food in La Paz

Back to Home ... s/v Stella Blue home ... Blog Index

Back to Home ... s/v Stella Blue Home ... Blog Index

Civilization. It was a long hot summer.

La Paz is a great place to do repairs and projects, because you can get parts here. Since I'm here for Novemember, I have a list of things to do.

The first project, after spending a week giving the boat a good scrub, is to build a hard floor for my dinghy. I'm giving up on the inflatable floor. For years, I had to reinflate it every couple of months, which wasn't a big deal. But it keeps leaking worse and worse, and each patch just forces a new leak to appear elsewhere. Now, it goes totally flat within two days, and has become a serious annoyance.

I bought the inflatable floor to keep the dinghy light enough to haul around my myself without hurting my back, and to make it easy to store.
The truth is, the dinghy has not been deflated for nearly two years now, and I use the halyard and whisker pole derrick to haul it on and off the boat. So the inflatable bottom has lost it's value for me.

I inflated the dinghy floor, and traced the outline onto a sheet of 1/2" exterior grade plywood. Marine grade plywood is available here, but it costs about 980 pesos a sheet, and exterior grade uses the same glue and is only 320 pesos a sheet. I found a good sheet with very few visible voids in the interior laminate, and really clean sides.

After cutting the floor pattern out of the plywood and sanding it with my random orbital sander (tools are essential when living on a boat,)
I hand sanded the edges perfectly smooth.

The whole thing was soaked with Smith's Penetrating Epoxy. I love that stuff, but it's really toxic. The wood took two applications and soaked up an entire half gallon of penetrating epoxy. The edges got four soaking coats. That sounds like a lot of epoxy, but this stuff is full of solvents. It's as thin as water, and soaks deep into the wood. It took three days in the 85 degree sun for the solvents to evaporate and the epoxy to cure.

That made the wood very water resistant.

Then I painted it with West Systems epoxy, and laid a 4 ounce layer of fiberglass over it, taking good care to wrap it over the edges.

The glass will just provide abrasion resistance, and keep the water out.

After sanding it perfectly smooth, I painted it with Comex oil based paint. Comex is the biggest paint source in Mexico, and this is good paint. It's the Mexican equivalent of Rust-O-Leum.

When the paint dried, I put about four coats of Evercoat non skid on. I've never used this before, but it worked out well. It's a rubbery latex paint, with lots of little rubber granules mixed in. The final result is very soft and rubbery. That's good for a dinghy, because you spend a lot of time on your knees, and do a lot of awkward entries and exits. I wanted to be able to fall down into the dinghy without abrading the skin off of my knees and elbows.

Here's the final result, installed in the dinghy. This picture is taken with the dink hanging in its harness, suspended by a halyard on the side of Stella Blue.

The boat handles a bit better with this hard bottom.

Here's a close up of the edge. I put seven hunks of hose around the edges of the bottom, so that it won't chafe against the Hypalon dinghy tubes. That also allows small cracks between the hose pieces, so water can drain away and air can flow under the bottom. I'm hoping that will help it dry out and avoid getting skanky.

I'm glad that's done, and am looking forward to an improvement in my quality of life at anchor.




I'm also really happy to be back where there are great grocery stores with fresh food and lots of crisp, fresh vegetables. The northern Sea of Cortez doesn't have a lot of fresh food.

To celebrate, I've been having fun in the galley.

Here's a pot of Chile Verde. I put the whole recipe on my recipes page.


I made some Curried Shrimp, too, but didn't take as many pictures for that recipe.


I suppose a power drill isn't the traditional way to get the milk out of a coconut, but then I never said I was Robinson Crusoe.



I keep a machete handy, inside the companionway, but so far all I've used it for is hacking open coconuts.




I feel sorry for people who can't cook.






Project Two: After a year of hard abuse, it was time to disassemble, clean and lubricate all the fishing hardware.

I replaced all the line in the reels with fresh stuff. The UV is pretty tough on fishing line, and my poles sit outside 24 hours a day.

I put new hooks and 100# leaders on my lures. I don't catch 100 pound fish if I can avoid it, but I plan for UV degradation and tooth damage.

Okay, I'm ready for the 380 mile sail to Banderas Bay.


Project Three: Reroute the propane line for the barbeque. It was just a loose hose from the propane locker to the barby, and I'm tired of that hose running loose in the cockpit. I'd left it loose because I figured I'd coil it up and stow it when the barby isn't in use, but that hasn't happened. I'm lazy, and I use the barby all the time.

So I ran the hose through the boat, and back through the cockpit coaming, exiting under the barbeque.

Those are good Trident water and vapor proof fittings. Still, I didn't like drilling another hole in the boat.

Oh well.

Here's a look at how the hoses run from the propane locker into the side of the cockpit. One hose is the main hose for the stove, and the other is for the barbeque.

With the lid open, they flex a bit forward, but when the lid is closed the locker sits back an inch and the hoses run straight. That's a lot cleaner than it was before.


This upsets me. Check out the rust and corrossion on my main propane hose. The fitting itself is brass, but the metal fitting around the hose turns out to be plain steel and it's rusting through.

Arrgh. This is the main 25 foot hose that runs all the way to the galley, and replacing it will be a royal pain. I cleaned it up and covered the whole thing with adhesive lined heat shrink from Ancor. Hopefully that will slow down the rust.

This hose came from Trident Marine. I think I'll send them an email with a picture of this hose, and ask for thier opinion. They make good stuff, normally, and most of the propane fittings on my boat are manufactured by them. This hose was installed only two years ago.


Project Four: Head Maintenance

Oh boy. Well, it's best to do this while in a marina.

I declared the head 'off limits' for a week, and filled the whole system with white vinegar. That should weaken and dissolve any mineral build up in the hoses.

Then I took the Raritan II pump completely apart, cleaned it and lubricated it well with silicone grease.

This is an easy pump to service, and all the parts are in great shape, so I didn't have to break into the spare parts kit.

I did, however, have to replace the macerator pump with the spare.
The pump was actually just fine, but I broke it while trying to troubleshoot it. One can't check the brushes on this motor. Oops.

I made a project page out of that, and it's useful reading for anyone who has a macerator pump on his or her boat.



Project Five:

Well, this isn't really a project, just something I've wanted to do for a while.

My dinghy light, made by Innovative Lighting, normally lives on a two foot pole that clamps on the transom. I always end up leaving it on Stella Blue, because it's awkward to keep in the dinghy, and isn't very secure.
So I end up motoring around in the dinghy at night with no light.

I took the plastic fitting off the end of the pole. It has a keyed post on the bottom that fit into the pole, so I used my Handy Dremel Tool to make a matching hole in the top of my outboard cover. The fitting is glued into the hole with 3M 5200, and on the inside is held tight against the outboard cover with washers and a good screw. It's not coming off.

Of course, the fitting has a threaded bolt sticking up, and when the light isn't attached I needed something to put there so the bolt doesn't scratch things or hurt someone.

The ducky works, for now.


I also wimped out, and bought a used air conditioner from another cruiser who's leaving Mexico.

This is just for next summer, when I plan to be back in the upper Sea of Cortez. It was brutal in Santa Rosalia, and if I hang out there next year I'm going to seal the boat up and be comfortable.

It is hard to believe I'm going to haul this around all winter, but it was really hot up there last summer. Besides, I need more crap stored up in the V berth. I think it will fit under the mountain bike.


At a cruiser swap meet, I found some lead weights and an old scuba belt. So I made a kellet for my anchor. There are 16 pounds of lead. The big shackle will slide over my chain anchor rode and change the catenary when I'm short scoped in small anchorages.

I've wanted one for a while, so it's good to have.

Click on pictures to see them full size














November is just about over. Today is Thanksgiving, and about 200 cruisers
gathered at Marina Palmira for a big Turkey Pot Luck dinner.

Some friends will be in Cabo San Lucas for a birthday party in a week,
so Cricket and I will head that way for a short visit. Then, it's time to sail south again.