Joli' Elle

Joli' Elle
While in Alameda

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

After almost 3 years...

        After almost 3 years, the day came to put Joli Elle in the water. I had put hundreds of hours in her and thousands of dollars which basically ended up being a refit of most of the systems onboard and in the water she went...
     My new crew, Scott and Connie and I had tested the engine and it fired right up. I had done this two other times. Once when Paul and I went through the entire fuel system and just before I went back to California in January for my Mother in Law's funeral. I was confident that there would not be a problem but sure enough, the sucker wouldn't start. So there we were in the ways, on a Friday. Lucky for us there was no launches scheduled for Saturday or Sunday. A few people came by to offer both condolences for the engine not starting and with possible solutions which I always appreciate. Scott, my crew member offered the winning prognoses with the faulty lift pump theory. Sure enough, I took the top off the Walbro 2401 lift pump that I had installed new in 2012 and sure enough, the diesel fuel with it's recent formula change, had caused the rubber bellows to disintegrate. Side Note: (I found this out only last week as I was going to rebuild the pump but was warned by the distributor that the rebuild kit contained the same rubber bellow and would only last 20 months instead of 10 years).
 Ok...moving forward. A Trimaran owner, Richard, offered me a ride into town if I needed help, which of course I did. Off we went, as my crew stayed with the boat, to downtown Guaymas in search of a new lift pump. I was hoping I could find something but this is Mexico and it's not always that easy to find something so specific.
     We first tried AutoZona. They only had fuel pulse type pumps, not lift pumps. Time and time again as Richard and I were met with a "no". My Spanish is almost non-existent and one woman behind the counter met me with..."this is Mexico, speak Spanish". Alrighty then. There was one more place that we were told to try. This was numero seis (6).
Apparently you needed to take a number which was pointed out by a very friendly local, Arturo, who spoke perfect English. He offered me to go ahead of him in line and also offered to translate for me. As it turned out, my new found friend was an Engineer at a manufacturing firm and thought he might have a used pump like mine at his house and if I wished could follow him to his home outside of town and that he would just give me the pump. But first, he new one more diesel parts outlet on the way and we followed him to that outlet.
     It was obvious that Arturo knew everyone in the store and with great interest the counter person looked at my pump, walked into the back and in one minute, came out with an aftermarket pump resembling mine. I was almost in tears with this man's kindness and continues to prove to me that this is why we are all on this earth, to help one another. If the entire population of this planet exercised these kind of ethics...well...I'll let you complete that sentence.
    The new pump was in and the engine running by early afternoon. The wind had piped up and we were stuck in the ways until the next morning as the winds hit over 30 knots that night. I chose to shower that night and walking back to the boat, I had to lean into the wind to make it to the ways. The next morning with light winds, we made it over to the Fonatur docks 4 miles away and stayed for a few nights as the conditions subsided in the sea for our crossing.
    There was some concern from Connie, Scotts wife, as to the sea worthiness of Joli Elle as I think the problem with starting the engine had created some doubts among the crew. I thought about it and told Scott that if for any reason they felt that Joli Elle or myself would in anyway endanger them, that they were under no obligation to move forward, going across the sea and down to La Paz. Scott appreciated that and assured me that they were ready to go, which we did.
     It's a 12 hour sail/motor across the sea to Bahia De Concepcion. It was approximately 50% sailing and 50% motoring. Wouldn't you know that the winds died as soon as I went off watch and had to listen to the mainsheet blocks clatter on the aft cabin coach house where I was trying to catch some sleep. My personal rule is, if the boat speed drops below 2 knots, start the engine. Especially at night as if the wind dies, at night, it usually stays that way. Scott and Connie had anchored at Santa Domingo, the top of Bahia Concepcion before and that's what we did.
     Most cruisers go all the way into the bay to "Coyote", which is 10 miles. Since we would be moving on the next day, this saved us an additional 20 miles. I will also mention the depth sounder was not working properly. it had been a problem in 2012 and 2013 but I thought it had been resolved after receiving a new display from SiTex. This would prove to be a stress point for the rest of the trip. Luckily I have a lead line with knots tied every 5 feet to help us sound the bottom. I'm sure this raised eyebrows with the crew also.
   Our next stop was San Jaunico, where the crew suggested we stay a few days and dinghy around. I was up for that and could use the sleep and wanted to check out the engine room and a few of the other systems on the boat.  Scott had developed a nasty cough that seem to wear him down a little. It was a concern for me as to what it might develop into and wanted to make sure he got as much rest as possible. He felt it was allergies. I thought it sounded more like a cold and if it was, could mutate into a number of maladies.
     I was at this anchorage in 2014 and it is well known for it's tree on the north end of the anchorage where cruiser hang their artifacts with their boat name and the year they had visited. I had hung a small tape measure but it had either blown away or was "borrowed" to measure  something. So I created another artifact and hung it up. We'll see if it's there when I happen to visit again.

     As a rule, I don't like towing a dinghy and I had never towed my new Portabot before and given the array of problems so far wasn't really up for it but Scott convinced me it would be fine to tow it to our next destination, Isla Coronado. Since it was under 20 miles, we gave it a try and it towed very well. I just didn't like having to babysit it. This is just another reason I usually stay at least 2 miles off a coast. 1) If you have to turn around and retrieve a dinghy, it is likely it's been gone for longer than a few minutes and it is likely that it is drifting towards shore. Imagine if you're doing 5 knots and the dink has been gone for 20 minutes. It's 20 minutes back and 20 minutes closer to shore. Then dicking around with a boat pole, trying to snag a polypropylene painter line without sucking the line 1 under the water into the prop. That's all you need...One mile offshore, dead in the water.
     The wind piped up at Coronado. Around 20 knots and as I was sounding with the lead line, it was getting  pretty thin. We anchored in a spot I was not too happy with. 5-7 feet under the keel, 20+knots of wind, 200 yards from a lee shore with no reliable depth sounder. Scott and Connie jumped in the dinghy to do some exploring while I stayed with the boat in case we dragged. The crew had been here before and wanted to climb the volcano top they had not been able to do on their trip here years back. To my surprise, I had phone reception and was able to call my wife. A highlight for me, for sure. She could hear the stress in my voice and also added that her Mother was in the hospital with a few bed sores and a flu like condition. Her mother had been regressing steadily, after her husband, Bud, past away. With Alzheimer and dementia, she new she had lost someone dear to her and it was my feeling that this was it for her. After 64 years of marriage, her life partner was gone and time for her to move on.
     I wanted to go down to La Paz as soon as possible and looked at the charts to move on to anchorages spaced further apart than Scott proposed and withing a days motor or sail, so we could anchor before the sun set. I informed Scott and Connie that due to the recent events with my wife's Mother, we had to keep moving. I'm sure this wasn't what they had envisioned for their holiday but for me, family comes before anything else.
     We moved onto Puerto Escondito, where I had been in 2013 and took a slip for $85 for a night, taking on water and allowing my crew to shower, launder and eat out. I felt I owed them that much for the change in plans.
    Puerto Escondito use to be run by the government controlled, Fonatur. I was surprised to find it under a private management company and totally shocked at $85 a night! The Internet there was even shittier than when Fonatur ran it and it was terrible then! 

     I had remained pretty open to Scott's itinerary but now it was up to me to be responsible to get boat and crew to La Paz as safely and as efficiently as possible. It gave me an opportunity to cruise around Puerto Escondido as it seems to be a place for boats to stay long term and to me, looks like they go there to die. Although an excellent hurricane hole, it does get hit. The pictures below substantiate this claim.

     Next stop Bahia San Carlos where we bought 2 beautiful fish from the local Panga Fishermen. A treat for sure.

     Our last anchorage before La Paz, was Isla San Fransisco. Well protected and a good number of cruisers. We tippy-toed towards the beach and anchored in 20 feet of water. I could tell the trip was wearing on everyone at this point and welcomed the fact that we would be in La Paz the next day. A fellow cruiser motored over and we had a very nice chat since we both were Machinists. He owned a farm on the west coast of the US. and as the sun was setting, we said our goodbyes and I sacked out early, knowing it would be a long day. While my crew was still asleep, I got the boat underway and Connie popped up to give a hand. We had good wind and under the jib alone was able to achieve 5.5-6.2 knots. This lasted until the auto pilot crapped out two hours into the day. Scott came up and steered by tiller as I bypassed the hydraulics. Within one hour we had the hydraulics back but we would be hand steering  for the next 5 hours. I have been ridiculed in the past for having a wheel and tiller on the boat. The autopilot is an Autohelm 4000. When it broke, it bound up the steering a little bit and if I had only wheel and had to dig out an emergency tiller and install it and pull the connecting pin on the hydraulic ram and in the moderate seas we were in...well, you get the picture.
     Just after the autopilot incident, I had telephone reception once again and called Nancy. There was a darkness to her voice. She said "can we talk"? She told me that her Mother had passed away 4:00am. that morning and would I please come home as soon as possible. Because of continued phone reception, I called her every couple of hours to check in on her.
We had good wind within 12 miles of La Paz, where it became fluky and I elected to start up the engine and between Scott and I , navigated into the tricky but well bouy'd channel into the La Paz anchorage. By 4pm. we were anchored and the crew made plans to get off the boat the next day and take up a hotel. I can hardly blame them. I think it was nice for all of us to get some space alone. But that night we all went out on the town and had ice cream at Puente's. The next few days consisted of finding a slip, getting a one way ticket back home and tucking the boat away. It was a whirlwind of activity. Usually 12 hour days to clean, shut things down. Stow the outboard and generally make everything safe. One of the highlights was meeting Rick O. A person who has followed this blog for sometime. He offered some sanity with all the craziness that had been going on. Just having dinner with Rick and coffee at the Internet Cafe, allowed me to decompress a little. Thanks for that Rick. He has also been looking in the bilge for me when I am away from the boat. My Mother in Laws funeral was last week and now I am preparing to get back down to Joli Elle.
     For me, the cruising season is over. I have a wedding to attend in mid April. So I will put Joli Elle on the hard. I have no attachment to the season. I wish it had not been interrupted but that is life and family comes first. If I'm not their for them, why should they be their for me. Perhaps that's why I was helped by Arturo in Guaymas. I had paid forward somehow. At least I was on the water. If I had to do it over again, after the engine problems in Guaymas, I should have stayed in the San Carlos area, some 20 miles away and shaken the boat down some more. I have learned a lot of lessons from this trip.

Changes to the boat:

    I'm talking about this, that some other Captain might get something out of it. As outlined in the last three years of this blog, it should be evident that a lot of work and changes have gone into Joli Elle. There is definitely a line that should be drawn as to at what point is it prudent to shake the boat down and when to take off. Looking back on it, I should not have allowed crew onboard until all systems where 100%. With the depth sounder giving me grief, I would have stayed in San Carlos and when hauled out for the season, installed a new transducer for the sounder. I would have had a much nicer time, non-stressed and able to relax into the cruisers lifestyle. I still need that. Plus the haul outs and space rents in that area are half the price of La Paz and surrounding areas. 


     It's not fair to the crew or the Captain if a rough Itinerary is not outlined from the get go. This can cause ill feeling to say the least. Due to circumstances with my family, things had to progress at a pace that no one was really enjoying. 
     I feel now, a rough list of expectations should be outlined for the crew to understand. What is expected in regards to who makes decisions and what is expected from each member of the crew. In this way, before crew books airfare and gets on the boat, they have the option of knowing if that outline would work for them or not. There should not be any questions left unanswered. 
     In the next week or so, I will draft up a list of requirements from crew.

Tapping into all resources:

     Having crew onboard can be great for a lot of reasons. Each boat owner is different. There are the ones that have built a boat from scratch and have ventured off cruising. They know their boat inside and out and can pretty much repair anything. There are owners that worked hard their whole life, buy a boat a turnkey and while saving have learned, usually from a school, how to sail. Some of these owners have the added advantage of being well versed in modern electronics and know their way in and around OpenCPN, AIS and waypoints on a GPS. If you know your crews abilities, you can learn a lot. Scott showed me how to insert waypoints into my GPS and I'm sure with practice, I know I can get the hang of it. Maybe not as fast as him but I'll figure it out.



Monday, January 9, 2017

Ready to splash

Well today I finished the bottom paint except for the bald spots where the chocks and stands are. New zinc, old stock 78% copper paint (the new stuff is 60%). I was in the middle of the job the last couple of days when my wife emailed me that her father had past away. I was suppose to splash on January 16th, crew/friends here on the 20th, a short shake down and off across the sea.
     I was very lucky to catch an American airlines to Sacramento from Hermosillo. In fact as I was searching the first options were revising to "no longer available. But managed to get out on the 14th. Basically, the family is waiting for my return and then we'll have to drive to Eureka for the memorial.
    I'm trying to work out an arrangement having my crew stay onboard until I get back on the 25th. I hope I can swing that. anyways, her is "Joli` Elle" all gussied up.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hawse pipe heaven and the Mexican weight lose program.

    I have been told and told...Do NOT drink anything in Mexico that does not come out of a sealed bottle. Did I remember that when I ordered a picture of Jamica (pronounced hah-MY-kah) is a Hibiscus tea searched cold. To make it, it is a steeping process from the flower. Probably since that water is boiled (but maybe not) it may not have been that water. However it did have lots and lots of ice cubes directly from their filtered ice cube making machine...right? Ya...right! That was two days ago and I have been at half speed since. Usually in the morning it is a wager if I can get down the ladder, across the yard to the banos, without and accident. I swear, I could crap through a screen door and not hit a wire. I'm just saying.
     Good thing I have the remedy onboard and am improving each day.

On to the hawse pipes

    I decided back in 2013 that I wanted a way of running my dock lines and anchor bridle through hawse pipes rather than over the teak rail which is already looking shabby after 43 years.  I found some in the Svendsens catalogue and had them onboard until I got the chance to install them. So when Paul and I were down in October, I took some measurements to ascertain the thickness of the bulwarks and placement of the Seadog hawse pipes. I have outside dividers onboard an took the measurement of the buklwarks thickness. I was surprised to see a measurement of 1 1/2"s. I knew I had to use a carbide tipped hole saw, but it also had to be extra deep and 1 3/4" diameter to accommodate the hawse. I thought I was going to be out of luck since most hole saws that diameter are only 1 3/8" deep. Luckly, McMaster-Carr had exactly what I needed. But then I would need a jig saw blade that could cut fiberglass and 1 1/2"s at that! Home depot had diamond encrusted diamond blades. I bought 2 blades.

The hole saw worked like a charm. On cutting across the two holes with the diamond blade was a challenge though since I didn't have a firm grip and mega concentration on what I was doing. That blade snapped faster than a click of your fingers and I had only finished 1/2 of one hawse. Oh crap...bring out the Rosary beads! I was extremely careful and extremely focused and managed to get through the job...although I could feel the blade slowing down. I fastened them to the bulwarks by drilling and tapping the bulwarks and screwing them done. They look great and will greatly improve my dock etiquette. 

Quality of work in Mexico

     Please don't think you are getting quality work done in Mexico on the cheap. You'll be greatly disappointed. In 2014, I inquired at the office here as to who could sand the bottom of "Joli Elle" in order not to have excessive layer of bottom paint build up. I had it done in Alameda at Svendsens yard and the labor there was bad enough and left me with still, a lot of bottom paint blisters. These are trapped moisture or air when too many layers of bottom paint have been applied and too hurriedly. Which when you have your boat bottom painted and you're not watching, they'd do it in the rain if they thought they could get away with it. Ok...back to Guaymas. Gabriel, the yard owner, recommended Francisco and told me he would come by to check the hull out before quoting a price. One morning I could hear the usual boatyard traffic outside until I heard a grinder power up and before you could say "what the f#@&, Francisco had gouged 3 deep grooves through the paint...through the gelcoat and deep into the fiberglass. I screamed at him to stop and what he was doing. He had no idea I was onboard and then came up with a cock & bull story of he thought I wanted peel for osmotic blisters. I asked him directly "Do you f#@&ing see any f#@&ing blisters? 
     Anyways, here I am almost 3 years later repairing his work I let him do after I settled down and told him what I expected. By the way, most bottom finishers (the ones that know what they are doing), use a 8"-10" sander and 5" for the small stuff and radius's. Francisco uses a 4" grinder with a course flapwheel which leaves an uneven surface full of what are called smiles in the gelcoat.
     To beat a dead horse he played me with the labor, asking when I was leaving. According to him, wanted to make sure he had it done by then. Of course that was BS too. The job was about 80% done and he wanted money before I left and of course promised the rest of it would be finished well before my return. Upon my return the following winter, nothing had been done. I thought, two can play this game and I inquired about an LPU paint job. His eyes lite up. To make along story short, I had a carrot dangling in front of him and told him I wanted the bottom finished before he quoted the LPU job. The bottom was done a day later and I thanked him for the LPU quote which I have no intention of having him do it. 
     Below are just a few the repairs I had to do to make the bottom a little more fair. It will take a few more haulouts to sort that mess out. But in the next few days the paint goes on.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In MacGyver mode today

The windvane blues

Being a Toolmaker by trade has served me well in most area of my life but certain items on a boat need to be more Raggedy Ann than accurate. When I bought the Sailomat 601 from Florida...yes another Florida deal like the watermaker, It came cheap...$400. I thought...hell, I'm a Toolmaker, I can get this thing apart in no time and upgrade the bushings...which I did. The water oar yaw was always tight and I was hoping it would loosen up on the trip down south but did not. You can see from the picture below that the oar is not swinging smoothly.
Being in Mexico however can present some challenges...
1) Where to get a platform or ladder to perform the work.
2) By what means will I be able to bore accurately in diameter, straight through the bore and lastly, round (not egg shaped). First I thought of an 1 1/2" diameter wood dowel that i could put sandpaper on and hand, that will bell mouth and egg shape the bore. I spoke with some of my fellow boat yard MacGyvers in the yard and boring head, then a honing tool...WAIT...a honing tool. One of those 3 bladed, spring loaded brake cylinder hone tools from Autozona. 300 pesos later, I was back digging around my sandpaper bag until I found the strip sandpaper. I had 80, 120 and 320 grit...perfect, I'll wrap the sandpaper around the hone and let the spring action of the hone keep pressure on the sandpaper to hone out the plastic bushing (Delrin AF). And after borrowing a ladder from a fellow cruiser, Guermo, onwards I went.
The bore was 1.562" and needed to be 1.569" for the Raggedy Ann effect. The first 300 strokes back and forth with 80 grit rendered it to 1.567", then I finished with 120, then the 320 to give it a smooth and straight bore, while blowing it out to 1.569". It was back together in another hour with the entire job lasting 6 hours. Most of the time was scratching my head and having yet another adventure in Guaymas.

       The job list is getting shorter and my splash date is January 16th in the morning...two years and nine months since hauling out and going back to California to shake the money tree. Joli Elle has come a long ways and her Captain has seen a lot of changes as well...all good ones.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Watermaker completion

In previous posts, you will see from 2013 onwards, acquiring a dead Spectra watermaker for $400 +shipping from Florida. To recap, had it rebuilt at Spectra for another $525. Bought two updated boosts pump and built my own modular unit that I call the "Marquesas". I have around $1500 into he unit and the low end ones start at $6500. So I'm doing ok.
     The problem I have these days is remembering where I left off. Paul and I had worked out what was needed for 3-way service/salt water valves and how everything was to be connected. That was in Oct./Nov. and the beginning of January, I found myself doing boat Yoga where the watermaker is tucked away, trying to figure out where the hell everything goes. Now when I say trying...I mean to the tune of 6 hours. Taking the Spectra class and becoming a roving Technician has awarded me binders and binders of information. With those and some of my preliminary drawings, I finally figured it out...or at least I think I did. I even bought a Dyno label writer. All I need now is water.
     I was so pleased to get it done, I took the rest of the day off and cleaned up all my crap that had been littering the boat the last few days.
 Here was a trick I used to drill into the tank and not fill it full of fiberglass particles. The tank was fill 2"s from the top. I placed a cup that is forced from under, holding it in place. Note: To the right, in the picture, I am taping for a 1/4" pipe fitting where the R/O water comes in. The lid for the inspection port you see, is clear. So while the unit is running, I simply shine a light through the clear lid to see, a) if it's filling or not and b) how full the tank is. Slick uh?
                                                          Voila!...fiberglass in cup.
               Valve 1 for selecting to draw picking to the membrane or salt water to make R/O water.
   Valve 2. selector on the panel for running to get water of to flush with fresh R/O water after use.
                                        Chernobyl...uh...I mean the Marquesas Spectra unit.
                             Flow meter and valve for sample water or water to my main tank.

Tomorrow...freeing up the windvane. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Insight traveling on Tufesa

With great anticipation, made it back to the boat here in Guaymas 3 days ago. But only after 28 grueling hours on the Tufesa bus from Sacramento. I have some interesting points to share regarding Tufesa. Since I booked a seat for December 28th, it seemed to coincide with return dates for the Mexican families who had visited family in the U.S. So the bus was packed full. By the time we were passing through the L.A. area, you needed to roll up your pants 6"s to go into the "john", at the back of the bus...DISGUSTING! I have stopped trying to figure out why the Mexican culture continues to through paper refuge on the floors of bathrooms. There is obviously no garbage bin in that "john". So either Tufesa needs to inform via signage that it's ok to flush it down or supply a bucket. But to wade through that cesspool in your shoes is just wrong. By the time we hit the border the entire bus smelled of urine. complaining is over. The advantage to the full bus was stopping at the customs building on the Mexican side. With 50+ full seats, there was luggage in the 6 stow away bins under the bus. When the person (customs I assume) opened all the bins and saw the Mt. Rushmore of luggage, I can imagine how daunting it looked to have all the occupants of the bus humped their luggage to the conveyors and go through screening, like all the other times I had gone down via Tufesa. Instead, said official waived us through. I was elated since my luggage weighed in at 140lbs. After getting off the bus and trying to convey to the driver that I was a bag short, he insisted that it was no longer with the bus. To his dismay (read anger) I began to pull other luggage out. I refused to let him drive away until it was found. Sure enough my box of wood "Rat-boards" had somehow been "rearranged" to the bottom of a pile in a different bin. By the time I caught a taxi to the yard, 20 minutes away, I paid the 80 peso ($4) cab fair, it was 1:30pm and I was finally onboard or at least humping the 140lbs. of boat gear.

The work

The big project to button up was the shaft log to stuffing box set up. It had never been right from the time I removed the "dripless" system to the older style packing box. The shaft log was 1 3/4" and the rubber sleeve was 2"s. I had tried to use the toggle style clamps and they worked but the rubber did not look all that great. When I hauled out in Guaymas, I found one of the two, T-bolt clamps had broken. To that end, various other clamps had busted around the boat...two on the anti-siphon, engine raw water cooling set up and another one in the head on the Y-valve. This is disconcerting since I have never seen this on any of my boats over the years and I am suspecting a material change up on the stainless steel itself. So back to the shaft log fix...I dressed the bronze shaft log and applied 2" wide f/g cloth to build it up. I measure the thickness of the glass, dry and calculated how many layer (3) and away I went. A day later (today) I sanded the rough surface smooth and took my calipers to see it was withing .010" (3 human hairs and patted myself on the back for that fix.

I slide the rubber collar on 1" of the 2" "new" diameter and gentle tapped it on the rest of the way, with a dead-blow plastic hammer. Then re-clamped it down with new toggle bolt style clamps.
     Back in Alameda I had tried the "new Teflon" packing in the stuffing box and never liked it. It gave too much resistance and never dripped which concerned me. That and it ran hot to the touch. So I bought the regular wax you think I can find that anywhere on the boat?...Nooooooo! So I'll run the old "new Teflon" until I do.
     I then hooked up my spiffy shaft to zinc wiper that I made and no longer have to hassle with that stupid bullet zinc that is on the end of my prop shaft. That damn thing would be tight for 100 miles, then with the slightest corrosion would get loose, protecting nothing.
NOTE: These changes I do to my boat is in no way a recommendation for you do the same. The system I just installed was my own idea, machined by me for the sole intent of my boat. It is experimental to see if I have remedied a prior problem. I probably won't have any concrete evidence for months to come.


Maybe you have heard of Ratlines. The rope woven into the rigging of thew old square riggers allowing crew to scamper up the rigging to the long yards to furl and unfurl sails. In more recent times, people have used wood slats. I have spent a great many hours walking docks and surfing online to see the different ways people attack them to the rigging. The most secure method I have seen is with bulldog clamps. I totally disagree with this method because of how I have seen the clamps distort the rigging thanks.
     I used my own system I feel may work out...again...I do not recommend you try my method, since is has not been tried before and I take my own chances.

You can see I have used African Mahogany with 5/16", 316 Stainless Steel pronged T-nuts and 18-8 bolts 5/16" bolts. A total of 4 for each "Rat board". The idea is that Mahogany is a soft, hardwood and by clamping the wood, is pressed into the form of the wire acting as a sort of braking system. Any brake can be overcome by weight and/or shock force. So I will have to see how it goes. Not knowing how it was going to react, my hand and feet would sweat while clamping them on the lower shroads while the boat is out of the water. If they in fact didn't work from the get-go, I imagine the fall would kill me or worst...turn me into a drooling idiot.

The first thing I noticed as I installed then and to my satisfaction was that they required tightening over a short period of time, telling me the forming process is working and eventually over time have a good grip on the wire. Again...we'll see.

Boat envy...again

It happened again. Too long without being onboard and I found a Alajuela 38 that struck my fancy. I must have obsessed on the thing for 4 weeks. Amazing what the cold Northern California weather will do to your head. Anyways, I have almost completely recovered as I do not want to loose another year and a half outfitting another boat to do what "Joli Elle`" already does for me. However...every time I see an Alajuel 38 in an anchorage I share, I will wish the main hatch over the captain head leaks on him every night. More to come...stay tuned.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Back down for the cruising season and the Chase bank blues

     What a shock it was when I woke up November 9th at the yard here in Guaymas and while on my way to the bathrooms was told who we had for a President for the next 4 years. Without getting too political, lets just say I continued on my way to the banos to take a Trump. Not that Clinton would have been any better.
     My friend Paul came with me for 3 weeks to crunch on the last of the long ongoing project, such as the watermaker, radar repair, new prop shaft wiper to zinc system, Ham radio revamp, battery switch relocation, complete engine to prop shaft maintenance just to name a few. Most of it was an exercise in "boat Yoga"...slipping into tiny spaces that my small frame could get into. The watermaker was the tightest, being in the port side lazerette. When we first arrived in Guaymas it was 103F and 80% humidity, so you can imagine doing water connections and soldering in those conditions. You just get use to sweating. Later in the week it cooled into the 90's and a week later the 80's.
     The battery switch had been a big problem for me. It had been located at an entry point to the dinette. Every time your leg went by it, it got kicked. At one point during the sail down thew Baja coast, a crew member accidentally kicked it to the off position while crashing out. The engine was running at the time, so I kissed the alternator goodbye. Now the new slimline battery switch is recessed and located behind a back cushion in the dinette. You merely flip the cushion up and switch away.
    I had also had a ongoing problem with the prop shaft end, bullet zinc. THEY SUCK! You buy a special prop nut and with an allen bolt tighten them on. The problem is the do their job corroding away to protect the prop and shaft but as they corrode early on, they become loose from said corrosion and the bolt backs off, when the shaft spins and without knowing it, falls off. So I built a shaft wiper that encompasses the shaft and is connect externally to a 4"X6" zinc.
     Adding to the projects, I noticed the Racor filter was contaminated. So I thought it was a good idea to have the diesel tank drained and polished and to take the filter apart and clean it thoroughly. I found a service in San Carlos that came over to do the task and found 2 gallons of water in the tank. So now I can rest that the problem has been eliminated. I also found a breached oring on the deck fill. So this may also have been a source of water entry.

   The good news boat survived hurricane Newton. It was reported that the yard had 80mph sustained winds with 100mph gusts. When I arrived at the boat, she was listing 5 degrees because some of the boat stands had sunk into the ground up to 4"s. One stand was an inch away from the boat not doing a thing. This was a little un-nerving since the yard had told me all was a-ok. I had the yard correct the listing and was told for the first time that 3 boats had fallen over. I later learned it had been 6. So the yard owner was downplaying the situation. 3 of the 6 had fallen over into another boat, usually dismasting both. But I guess if it didn't hit the ground, it didn't count as falling over. In San Carlos, 58 boats fell over between the two yards there.
    Just a few miles down from the yard here in Guaymas is the "almost free marina". Where if you are on the cheap, berth your boat for 30 Pesos ($1.30US as of 11/16). The docks are new and beautiful but the local fisherman treat it as a method of relieving you of excess gear on your boat for you such as outboards and most anything that is not chained down or locked. A German national that I met last year in the yard had launched his 60ft. cement boat. Although there had been lots of warning that the hurricane was on track to hit Guaymas and San Carlos, he claimed that he didn't know. I find this hard to believe as there are at least half a dozen other boats in that marina as well as Mexican national boat there. As the rains came and then the winds, the heavy ferro boat slammed in and out of the docks until she was holed then ripped away from the docks, finally resting on rocks across the small inlet where the marina is located. My take is that he was simply ill-equipped to deal with the storm.
     Here are some pictures of the carnage from the storm in the yard. The one picture you see with what looks like cement on the transom, actually sank and was refloated.

     Now, lets take a moment and talk about my experience with Chase bank and this probably applies with other American financial institutions. Oh...don't worry...your money is secure. So secure in fact that not even you can get it out of your account while traveling.
     Before leaving this last time, I went to my local Chase bank to give them notice that I would be in Mexico for awhile. I gave the dates I would be there and it was duly noted. So you know what happened right? Down I go to the Banmex in Guaymas and nada mas. So back to the boat and I call on Skye to sort it out with Chase. I get..."Oh I don't see a problem but I will reset the information and you should be ok". Two days later, I try again...same deal. This time, I'm not taking "everything is ok" for an answer and after 15 minutes talking to one of their script reading customer service persons back in Alabama, I'm transferred to a debit card "Specialist". On comes a guy with a heavy East Indian accent. Who also does not see a problem but some how magically fixes the problem and encourages me to try again. Out of curiosity, I ask him where he is located. He tells me India. Some how I'm not surprised. Bank managers freshly out of college and out-sourced customer service is now the norm.  So again...back to town the next day and some how it is now working although no one knows why. Really instills confidence in the banking system doesn't it?
     I vow to get to the bottom of it when I get back. I walk into my branch but the manager is busy and will have to call me which actually happens. In my most stern voice, I lay out the scenario for her. She promises to check it out and call me back, which she did. But again cannot explain what happened and stated that two different starting and stopping dates were inputted but had no idea who or how it was done. This is due to the fact that she is not able to see on screen, the transaction because it is another department and "retail bank branches cannot look at that. Really? can't even communicate within your own bank? I explained to her that it was her branch where the input was done and even told her which banker did it. She said she would check into it but I'm sure the result of that would be as lame as all the other information I had received thus far. The funniest part was at the end of the conversation where she told me that she could even input the information next time. So I said..."Ok, so moving forward, I will have you, the bank manager, input it for me". Her reply was..."Well if I happen to be here, I can". And thus my friends is the banking system we have today. Welcome to Chase.