Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Look & New Blog

As you can see, we've changed the look of the blog. The old format looked rather dark for our travels in the tropics so we changed the format and the banner picture.

We also have started a new partner blog, M/V Discovery Tech Notes, that will focus on technical issue and projects on the boat. Look to 'Other Links' on the right to get to the new Blog. This Blog will remain our travel log.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Date: 6/28/2009
Location: Marina Real - San Carlos Sonora Mexico
Weather: Hot, 90+ ° and 70% humidity

We had all the varnish stripped off the boat this week. It was not a job I wanted to do in this heat. We hired a local worker that had approached us when we first arrived about doing work on the boat. I asked around the other boaters and he seemed to have a good reputation so I asked him to give me a quote on stripping the varnish. He told me a price but then came back after the first day with a higher price and said I must have misunderstood him the first time. I would have fired him on the spot but I had already given him half the price as an advance and didn't want to lose that so I gave in. Lesson learned, always get the price in writing so there can be no misunderstanding.

We're not going to varnish or otherwise finish the teak, just let it go natural and turn a nice gray. We've seen other boats and some Nordhavns with gray teak and think it looks nice and in this heat varnish is too difficult to keep up. The key to good looking teak, decks or cap rails, is to keep it clean by washing it with a gentle soap like Joy using a soft brush and then rinse with salt water.

We got our car from Tucson and had no trouble getting through the Mexican customs at the boarder despite the fact that we had the back of the Jeep stuffed with things. We showed them some receipts and asked how much we needed to pay but they just waved us through. The Sonora area down to Guaymas is a 'no hassle zone' for bringing a car in so we didn't need any import documents to drive down here, if we go further south then we'll need a temporary import permit for the car. We drove up to Hermosillo this week and went to Costco. It looks just like the stores in the states. Hermosillo in just over an hours drive from San Carlos and we wanted to buy some cheese and lunch meat so we bought a small cheap styrofoam chest and a bag of ice to carry the items back. Even with the A/C in the car it was a little too warm and too long of a trip to carry meat that long in the car. Hermosillo is a large town and has a Costco, WalMart, Home Depot, and lots of large Mexican stores so we'll be able to get everything we need, or want.
We're having fun here although it's getting hotter every day. Weather Underground said it was 106° yesterday although we only showed 91° at the boat. The humidity outside is above 70% but with the A/C on the boat we keep the inside temp below 80° and the humidity below 60% so it's comfortable. It's just when you have to go outside and when you first get into the car that's been parked in the sun that's a killer.

We have lots of projects to keep us busy for the summer. We should be going back to Tucson in a week to pick up some more boat stuff, this time new VHF and SSB antennas, so that will be fun.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mainland Mexico

Date: 6/14/2009
Location: Marina Real, San Carlos, Sonora
Lat/Lon: 27 56.73 N 111 05.54 W
Weather: Warm and sunny, 85°. Lite afternoon breeze

We're on the mainland of Mexico in Marina Real, 5 miles north of San Carlos in the Sonora region of Mexico. We arrived here 30 days after leaving La Paz, for the second time.

We first left La Paz on April 29th but after a week anchored in some beautiful bays it became apparent that the Generator was not well. The smoking was getting worse, it was running 10 to 15 ° hot, not overheating but not right, and there was not the normal high volume of water gushing out the exhaust. There was something wrong with the water cooling system, perhaps a blocked thru hull or hose. At anchor I had checked the water pump impeller and discovered it only had 3 of it's 5 blades. I was sure that this was the problem and was disappointed after I replaced it to find no difference in how it ran. So it seemed wise to return to La Paz and find the problem before getting further from stores and services. We went back to Marina de la Paz and with the help of Bill on M/V Ocean Quest I finally found some barnacles growing in the sea water intake hose, some 2 feet from the thru hull. Once those were removed the Gen ran great with mucho volume of water coming out the exhaust. While in the engine room I decided to fix a small water leak at a hose fitting on the water maker membrane only to discover that the leak was caused by a cracked end cap on the membrane tube. Fortunately, Bill the 'Water maker guy' had an end cap and I replaced both end caps on the one membrane and bought a spare for 'just in case'. We had the membranes replaced by Village Marine in Seattle 2 years ago and it looked like they over tightened the hose fittings and cracked the nylon caps. The new caps are made from a different material and shouldn't crack. When we took the membranes apart we discovered that our 40" membranes tubes only had 38" membranes in them with a 2" extension fit to take up the missing length. Nice work Village Marine. That's the last time I do biz with them. You can buy the membranes straight from a 3M distributor and save 25%. If and when we need new membranes that's the way we're going.

So once we got ourselves and boat all straighten out, off North we went, again. We tried Los Gatos for a night but with the easterly winds we rocked and rolled all night and slept little. It's a beautiful place but we need our sleep and one of the cats got sea sick while at anchor. Next day it was off to Aqua Verde, green water. When you see a photo of boats in a beautiful bay in Baja anchored in crystal clear, green, emerald water, this is the place it was taken. For some reason when we were there the water was not so emerald in color but it is a beautiful, well protected place. We spent 4 days there playing around in the dink and swimming every afternoon.
The next stop was Honeymoon Bay for one night on Isla Densante before heading into Puerto Escondido. Puerto Escondido has 2 large bays, the outer bay, 'the waiting room', holding 30+ boats on anchor and the inner bay has a 100 mooring buoys and room for another 50+ boats at anchor. There is also a Marina Singlar there with 8-10 slips and a small store and restaurant. You have to pay no matter how you stay, anchor or mooring. We anchored because there were no open buoys large enough for us close to the marina and dinghy dock and there was lots of room to anchor. US$ 15 per day, anchor or mooring. There's nothing much else there but it's only 10 miles from Loretto, a very quaint touristy town. We were told by the Singlar staff that the taxi fare to Loretto was 700 pesos round trip while you could rent a car for 500 pesons a day, US$ 40, so rental car it was. We drove into Loretto and spent an afternoon looking around, shopping, and having lunch. It's a nice town and worth the stop.

From there it was off to another large bay, San Juanico, but again the prevailing winds kept us rolling all night so we moved north just 2 miles to Caleta Ramada which was more protected from the waves. We had the small bay to ourselves and spent 2 days swimming and exploring the beach.

Bahia Concepcion is a large bay inside a peninsula that reaches out into the Sea. It's known as being one of the hottest location in the Sea because the water heats up and it's surrounded by hills. People have warned us about going there and we hoped that we were early enough in the summer to avoid the high heat. There are numerous bays to anchor in and we spent 8 days moving from one location to another. The heat was not too bad and there was always an afternoon wind that helped cool things down. In el Burro cove we met Geary who gives the weather on Sonrista net. Our outboard motor started to act up again, choking and dying whenever we used it and this less than 2 months after a tune up in La Paz. It is truly a POS and with it's streamlined cowling it is very hard to work on. Out of frustration we finally lifted the dink up onto the top deck and I removed and disassembled the carborater, soaking all the parts in carb cleaner. When we put her back in the water, she ran great! Better than after the tune up in LP. I think the problem was some gunk in the fuel line found it's way into the jets and we may just have to do this every few months. I wish we could get a simple 2 stroke, our Yamaha 2 stroke on our Defever was bullet proof, so we're going to start looking around for one. Maintenance on a boat is like 'Whack a Mole'. Get one thing fixed and another pops up.

After a week in Concepcion we moved north to Punta Chivato, a point that sticks out and give fairly good protection. We only spent one night there before continuing on to Santa Rosalia.

Santa Rosalia is an unusual town because the French operated a large copper mine here for the first half of the 1900's and the town has a different look and feel than other typical Mexican towns. The most striking difference is the French liked wood framed buildings rather than adobe so all of the building look like transplants from the Northwest. In fact they use to ship the copper from the mines to the copper smelter in Tacoma, WA and return with ships full of Northwest cedar and fir timber that they used to build the town. The other difference is that few tourists & gringos come here so it doesn't have the tourist shops. The downside is that the grocery stores don't have much selection and the meat departments look rather primitive so staying here any length of time would be difficult. We stayed in the Singlar marina here, weekly rate of 40 pesos per foot, which is a fairly new marina with nice docks and facilities. The bay is protected by a large breakwater that the French built and there is a large panga fleet that are fishing for Humbolt squid this time of year. There is a lingering smell of rotting fish over most of the harbor area, not too bad but it's always there. We spent a week here exploring the town and restaurants.

Now we're in Marina Real just north of San Carlos. This is a well protected marina that's in good shape but there are no shops or services within walking distance. The marina is surrounded by very nice, $1+ million homes and resorts but no stores and only one high end restaurant. You really need a car if you are going to stay here so we are going to catch the bus up to Tucson and bring back our car. With a car you are only a few minutes from San Carlos with stores and restaurants and Guaymas, a town of 200,000, is only 30 minutes away. With a car this will be a great place to spend a few months and wait out the hurricane season. It will get hot here but we have A/C on the boat so we'll be all right.