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Monday, June 26, 2006

Communing With Nature

25 June 2006
Isla Las Animas, Baja
28 42' N, 112 05' W

Yes, we're no longer up to date on our blog, but let's just jump back in from here. We spent an unheard of six nights in the lagoon at Bahia San Francisquito - unheard of because we're usually in and out of an anchorage after three nights max. But the anchorage there is very protected with no swell, which turned out to be just what John needed for removing the teak from the cabin top foredeck. Except for the cockpit, that's the last large area to be done. It's very nice to be able to walk around without leaving dirty footprints most of the time now. The gel coat is much easier to keep clean.

The bird activity in that area was amazing, and was starting to become a nuisance with all the noise they were making. Hundreds of birds - including pelicans, terns, Hermann's Gulls, blue-footed and brown boobies, cormorants, etc. - were after huge bait balls which ringed the bay. These were so thick that the sandy bottom appeared to be black with undulating "grass." We also saw several young sea lions enjoying the feast.

We took one hike and one beach walk while we were there, had three boats over for cocktails on Nakia, dinner on SolMate (we contributed some of the dorado John caught on the trip up from Santa Rosalia), and movie nights on both Nakia and SolMate. Besides the water being a refreshing 70-72 degrees, the only downside was the number of bees visiting the boat whenever the breeze was down (mostly mornings and evenings). This morning I decided I'd had enough of them and got up from my chair to come down below. I wasn't careful about making sure none were nosing around me and, when I flexed my foot to stand up, I felt something on my instep. I lifted my foot back up off my flip-flop in time to release the bee and see it fly away, but then quickly realized that it had already stung me. I immediately went below where John was waiting with a kitchen knife to scrape out the sting and poison sack, and then applied ammonia and ice. This afternoon the sting isn't much bigger than a mosquito bite and hasn't bothered me at all. I'm sure the key was getting the poison sack out in a matter of seconds after being stung.

We raised anchor at 8 AM and motored for an hour before sailing the rest of the way here. Actually there wasn't any wind to speak of but we got a push from the flood tide. The nice thing about only doing 2-3 knots under sail is that you see and hear so much wildlife. We heard the splashing of a large pod of dolphins before we could see it, and we were surprised a few times by the loud exhalations and inhalations of a few very large whales which we think were fin backs. And it's always fun to hear the splats of manta rays doing back flips in the air. They've already disappeared back into the water by the time the sound reaches us, but they usually accommodate us by doing two in a row so we can see the second aerial trick.

John's out fishing, trying to find the school of yellow tail that our neighbor reported seeing in the anchorage yesterday. We're a little exposed to weather out here so tomorrow we'll probably head back to the Baja coast to continue north.

Linda and John

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


We've been doing a long term summertime project on NAKIA that I thought you'd all be interested in. We're removing the teak decking from everywhere except the cockpit. This is a long multi-step process which, ultimately, will prepare the deck for gluing down new non-skid fiberglass panels. The process goes as follows: First I take a small chisel and a hammer and remove the wood plugs which seal up the top of the screws. The plugs are about 3/8" of an inch wide and 1/8" deep. This turns out to be about the hardest part because the plugs are very well glued into the deck. In fact on a lot of times, the only thing sealing the screw is glue, the plug having long worn away. After removing the plugs from 150 or so screws, I take my drill driver and remove the screws. This is the fastest step - power tools are great! When all the screws are removed, the hard work begins. Using two pry bars, a couple of wood chisels, a heavy duty putty knife, and a big, heavy hammer I pry the teak planks from the underlying fiberglass. This is usually a challenging effort because the black caulking used to seal the teak planks to the fiberglass is still in pretty good shape and the teak is not in very good shape. Between the strong glue and old wood many of the planks break in the process of being removed, leaving a lot of splinters and short pieces. Once in a while I can actually pull an entire plank without it breaking. Once all the planks are off Linda and I go back over the fiberglass and scrape off as much of the black caulking as possible. The rest will be sanded off later. With all the screw holes open, I take some penetrating epoxy (a runny glue which soaks into wood and fiberglass and then hardens) and squirt it into the screw holes using a small syringe. That's left for 36-48 hours to cure and then I go back and drill out all the screw holes using a counter-sync bit to make a larger surface area for the filler to adhere to. I mix up some epoxy and thickener and then push it into all the holes. This cures over night so the next day I can finish off the job by sanding all the excess epoxy filler along with the left over black caulking. This is the dirtiest step with all the sanding dust blowing all over the place. Finally I vacuum up the dust and Linda wipes down the deck with a sponge and water and we're left with a clean smooth white deck.

Why, you may ask, are we doing this? The primary reason is heat. The teak decks are hot-hot-hot! If the mid-day sun is on the teak it's impossible to stand barefoot on the deck; you have to wear shoes to protect your feet. Also the teak is dirty. It holds dirt and mildew and slowly distributes it to the rest of the boat. So we're hoping that after the removal/replacement process we'll end up with a cooler, cleaner, and lighter boat.

We'll know for sure this winter when we're all done and the deck is newly painted.

John and Linda