August 2011 - a month in Santa Rosalia

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After buying this air conditioner at a swap meet last fall, and hauling it around for the entire winter and spring, I finally put it to use.

I'd bought it expressly for Santa Rosalia. Out on the hook, even in the summer, you can usually catch a bit of breeze, and if it gets too hot you can just jump overboard. But in the Santa Rosalia harbor that isn't an attractive option due to water quality.

Even running full blast, the a/c couldn't keep up with the afternoon heat. It still got to be over 100F inside the boat. However, it removed the humidity, which ranged between 60 and 80 percent outside. That alone was worth the hassle of hauling this around, and clambering over it in the companionway.

After being on the hook since May, it was time to take care of some of those essential chores that really work best when you have shore power.

I equalized the batteries, although they really are about to die and only hold half the rated capacity. They also lose a charge pretty quickly, and I think if I just let them sit they´d go flat in a week. New batteries are tops on the list for this fall.

I also defrosted the freezer. It gets pretty bad in this humidity.
Oh, and I found my glasses! Who would have thought they´d be in the freezer.


The harbor entrance, and the Pemex fuel tanks, are now guarded by armed marines. Rumor has it that a boat owned by some bad guys pulled in, and the fuel dock attendants took one look and ran away, so the boat fueled up for free and left.





I had planned to stay in Santa Rosalia for at least a month. That´s why I bought the air conditioner. I don´t expect to use it anywhere else, since I won´t see a marina again until I get to La Paz in late October or November.

For the last year, I´ve been planning out the Sunbrella projects for Santa Rosalia. The marina has a great air conditioned cruiser´s lounge, with some tables big enough for my Sailrite machine.

Because the sewing machine is so heavy, it lives at the very bottom of the V Berth storage, against the hull. Pulling it out is a big job in itself, so I wanted to have a good list of things to do.

The first few projects were small. I modified the jerry can covers to make them easier to take on and off, and made new covers for the foam tubes that serve as back rests on the stern rail.

Then it was time to dive into something bigger. I added slots along both sides of the main sail cover, so that I can leave the lazy jacks up all the time. I´ve become too lazy to pull them out and put them away. I also added extra Sunbrella around points that were chafing, especially where I bungee the cockpit awning over the sail when at anchor.

The main reason for pulling out the sewing machine, though, was to repair the dodger. Two of the YKK zippers were rotten from UV exposure, and would crumble with just a finger´s pressure. I´ve actually been sailing around with my dodger windshield hand sewn onto the frame because the zipper broke.

I sure am glad I brought down a bunch of extra Sunbrella, and tons of spare zippers, snaps, and canvas fasteners.

The entire dodger needed to be resewn. The dacron threads were rotting out, and falling off, and in another year it might have just fallen off the frame. After taking a good look at the fabric, I didn´t use my expensive Tenara thread but just restitched everything with V-92 Dacron polyester. This thread will probably rot out in another 5 years, but by then the fabric itself will need to be replaced.

I added extra layers of Sunbrella over the corners, where they tend to get chafed by hands and lines.

While I had the dodger apart and off the boat, I made a bunch of pockets for the side panels. This has been on my list for years, and I wish I'd done it back north when this dodger was new.

If I did it again, I'd make the pockets smaller at the top, since they tend to sag out. You can see what I mean. Perhaps the pocket side panels should be about half as wide at the top as they are at the bottom.

Oh well, too bad.

I also added some leather-lined loops along the front and back edges of the top, which are handy for hanging things.

I added a pocket to the edge of the dodger top, and sewed some double braid dinghy line in loops, so I have other places to clip things.

What the heck, as long as it's off the boat, I might as well customize it. It's not coming off again until it's time to replace it, because removing it is a two day job. The solar panels on the top make the process pretty painful.



This it was just time for little putzing around projects. I walked into town and bought some upholstery fabric scraps at the little fabric store. Selection was limited, of course, but I don't care. I made some slip covers for my cockpit seats, which also get used inside. Now they can be easily washed. That's important, because they collect a lot of spilled food and sweat.


While the machine was out I helped another cruiser patch his headsail, and let a few other folks use it for repairs. Karma, you know.








This is Ricardo, who barely speaks English, and works for the government to help underprivileged families send their children to school. He visits other schools, and talks to the kids, and if they have friends who aren't going to school he finds the families and offers public assistance. Usually, kids don't go to school because they're working to help the family make ends meet, so the assistance usually involves finding other sources of labor for the family business. At least, I *think* that's what Ricardo does. He barely speaks English, and my Spanish isn't all that great, so the previous paragraph is what I culled after about an hour of mind-numbing conversation.

Ricardo drove myself and another cruiser up to San Ignacio. It was the weekend of the annual town festival.

Every year, since the founding of the Mission, they have a celebration. After a special Mass, the icon of San Ignacio is lifted up and paraded through the town, to give it his blessing.

San Ignacio is really green. After seeing nothing but the desert of Baja, this was a welcome change. There's a spring up in the mountains, and it's pretty big because it feeds a good sized river that meanders through the desert to the sea. It clearly has been an oasis for people who live for miles around, and is something of a local vacation destination.




Here's a picture of the parade, as it made its way back to the Mission.



The highlight of the festival is when all the caballeros from all the nearby ranches ride into town. It's a big deal.

They ride down out of the mountains, and line up in front of the Mission, where they are blessed by the Father of the Mission, and the icon of San Ignacio.

One of our party wandered off, so Ricardo and I spent a few hours trying to find him. During the course of the search, I ended up in the Mission during the afternoon mass, and the priest walked past and threw some Holy Water on me. I don't know what that means, but it's probably a good thing.


A few final things to do before leaving the marina world: First, I'm trying to figure out why my engine is running about five degrees too hot when under load. It idles at 180F, but under load will rise. My first thought is excessive back pressure in the exhaust, so I replaced the bypass valve that drains water out of the system before it hits the exhaust elbow.

185 isn't going to hurt the engine, but it's symptomatic of a problem that needs to be discovered and addressed. The coolant is only three months old, and the impeller was replaced a year ago, and *tons* of water is going through the system, so I think it's not something serious. With only 1100 hours on the engine I have a hard time believing that there's a problem with the heat exchanger -- especially given the quantity of water I see passing through it.

If this doesn't affect it, I'll have to pull off the exhaust hose and inspect the mixer elbow for carbon buildup.

I just included the picture to the left after being grateful, for the hundredth time, that I have so many spare parts, nuts, bolts, tools and assorted stuff in this boat. There's hardly room for me, but trying to find spare parts down here can be a real chore, and I'm grateful for the four watertight bins of bronze and marelon fittings I keep in the bilges, and all the stainless steel nuts and bolts.



In any case, it's time to leave Santa Rosalia.

I'm going to head back south, and haul Stella Blue out in Puerto Escondido. There, we'll strip 20 years of bottom paint off the boat, take it down to the gel coat layer, and put a new barrier coat on.

Boats are great, but there´s always something to fix or maintain.


Within a few hours I´d landed a few Dorado. This one was the first, and was big enough to provide fish for a week. It´s about as big as I want to catch. Any bigger and I´d have to clean it on the cockpit bench, and that would require a major cleanup effort.


Because of this fish, I decided to pull in on the NORTH side of Punta Chivato. It was early, and I almost went around and stayed on the south side to save an hour on the next day´s leg.

But I didn´t, and it was a very good thing, because the next morning I was slammed dead center by the nastiest Chubasco front I`ve experienced, with recorded winds between 50 and 60 knots.

It was big enough for me to give it a separate web page...

Click on pictures to see them full size