Loading Map

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

San Blas to Chacala

When we finally tore ourselves away from Isla Isabela last Tuesday it was with a good breeze to sail the 40 nm to Mantanchen Bay near San Blas. We even had the spinnaker flying for awhile. The next morning we backtracked five miles north to the San Blas estuary and crossed the river bar at a comfortable high tide. We spent four nights anchored in the estuary, going into town each day (it's still a 50 peso dinghy dock fee at the Fonatur marina and they now meter the dock water, but it's a reasonable cost to fill your tanks). In spite of having our no-see-um screens in we acquired more bugs with each passing night. It's a tiresome way to live on a boat with every opening closed up and the tight knit screens blocking any incoming breeze (of which there isn't much back in the estuary to begin with). One of the joys of this life is sitting out in the cockpit as the sun rises and sets, but in bug country we have to hunker down below, and everyone starts to get a little crabby. Bug spray helps, but add that to sunscreen and sweat and - ugh.

To our minds San Blas is a dusty, sleepy, poor town with not much to offer in exchange for being eaten by bugs. There are basic shopping and other services, including a good internet place. We did find a carnitas taco stand with succulent pork and perfect toppings. It's on the corner of the main road out of town and the road which passes between the plaza and the Social Club. It was only open during the day and we didn't find anything to equal it on the square at night. We gave the Social Club a try for internet and burgers but it was full of down-on-their-luck-looking Norte Americanos who were all smoking up a storm. We enjoyed drinks one night at Billy Bob's which was much nicer. But we found nothing to equal La Ya Ya in La Cruz which has to be our favorite hangout in Mexico so far.

After getting our fill of groceries, internet, tacos, and churros on the square, we left Sunday on an early high tide for Mantanchen Bay to spend the night and head to Chacala on Monday. We motor-sailed the whole way (and saw our first humpback whale of the season!) because there was another boat behind us and we were anxious to beat him to our favorite spot here. We were happy to arrive and find only one other sailboat anchored (we heard there were 12 just a few days ago), but were disappointed that a few private mooring buoys have been installed since last year. A large U.S. flagged power boat is on one buoy which looks very new and even has a Catalina Island style flag for picking up the mooring. The boats on moorings do not put out stern anchors as we do to keep us pointed bow into the swell.

We've already had our first swim to and walk on the beach; spotted a one-inch colorful nudibranch near the surface right on the stern (maybe a Spanish Dancer from the way it was swimming); and are looking forward to taking the dinghy in today for more adventures.

{GMST}21|09.815|N|105|13.628|W|San Blas to Chacala|Chacala{GEND}

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Fish Camp anchorage

Friday, November 30

We love it here and we're staying until we run out of food! Which, given our state of provisioning, probably won't be for as long as we'd like. We've made a conscious decision not to carry more food than necessary for our immediate needs. (i.e., not to "stock up") because there's always a little tienda in every Mexican village - except for out here. We didn't expect to stay for more than a few nights, and thus didn't buy things like flour (for making bread), dried beans (for when we're out of fresh veggies and meat), and masses of onions (which keep forever and go with everything). But we've hit a perfect period of calm weather following a day or two of nice breeze for getting here, and it would be a crime to leave now.

Yesterday we moved over to the anchorage off the fish camp where four boats were already anchored. John found a patch of sand for our anchor but our chain was laid out over rock. After three boats left this morning we moved into a larger patch of sand to get our gear off the rocks. John snorkeled the anchorage yesterday and not one of the other boats had its anchor in sand.

Fish Camp anchorage

The fish camp anchorage is notorious for "eating" anchors because it's so rocky. We've always felt a little smug about tucking up into the sand at the rock spires (Las Monas) anchorage and didn't even bother looking at the fish camp last year. Boy were we surprised when we discovered how much calmer it is there. We prefer the spires because it has the best snorkeling and more privacy. At the fish camp you trade pristine natural beauty for corrugated tar paper shacks lining the beach and fishing panga traffic, but on the plus side there's a calm beach landing and less rolling. We'll take it!

Las Monas spires

We went ashore yesterday to do some hiking and were greeted by two friendly and very helpful young women who spoke perfect English. They are employees of the Park Service, and were happy to guide us to the recommended trail head. We enjoyed walking along wooded trails with frigate and booby birds roosting directly overhead. Walking in the gloom of the shade hearing the cries and bill clacking of hundreds of birds was a little eerie. Of course with life there is always death and I couldn't help be dismayed after running across three birds in distress over the course of our hike. It appears that a misjudged landing can spell a slow death for a frigate. Their wing span is so huge that if they fall to the ground underneath the low tree canopy (more like big bushes), they aren't able to fly back out. We found one struggling to free itself from tall grasses in which its feet we entangled (John tried but couldn't free it), and two others were vainly flapping on the ground amidst narrow tree trunks. The remains of long dead birds littered the forest.

We were happier to see both brown and blue-footed boobies sitting on eggs. We would have liked to have hiked more of the cliff trail, but as birds stood up from their "nests" when we passed, we quickly turned around and headed back to the beach where we explored tide pools in lava rock that reminded us of Hawaii.

Brown booby bird with egg

I cannot overstate how gorgeous it is here. From Nakia we can see down to the bottom in 24' of water. Birds are everywhere. Brown moths the size of hummingbirds come out at night to keep Ziggy entertained on deck. The big schools of tropical fish are beautiful. There's nothing like it anywhere on the Pacific side of Mexico, and it has us missing French Polynesia even more because we know we'll have to leave here eventually for the greener, muddier waters of the rest of the coast.

{GMST}21|50.571|N|105|52.941|W|Isla Isabela|Fish Camp{GEND}

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Isla Venados (Mazatlan) to Isla Isabela

Except for a bit of motoring at the beginning and end of the trip, we had an easy 90nm downwind sail from Noon on Tuesday to dawn this morning. It took us three tries to get the anchor set in a good patch of sand, but we are tucked in safely with three other boats (all from this year's Baja Ha-Ha). We tidied the boat, enjoyed our coffee while watching the frigates and blue-footed booby birds doing their aerial acrobatics, ate a late breakfast, went through a Rosetta Stone French lesson (preparing for another trip to French Polynesia in the Spring), and then hit the water for some of the best snorkeling on the Pacific side of Mexico.

We are in 24' of water and we can see the bottom - what a change! With my new shortie wetsuit and neoprene gloves I didn't get cold at all. Granted the water is 83 degrees, but I used to get chilled wearing my old wetsuit jacket and no gloves. Like our visit a year ago, we didn't see a huge variety of fish, but they are plentiful and we saw a huge school of big jacks on the outside wall of one of the pinnacle rocks.

It's a little bouncy in the anchorage but we hope to stay at least a couple of nights to enjoy the scenery.

{GMST}21|50.868|N|105|52.746|W|Isla Isabela|Lots of birds{GEND}

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Extra day at Venados

Rather than push right on to Isla Isabela we decided to take an extra day at Deer Island. This gives us a chance to get our sea legs and get back into cruising mode, especially Ziggy who appears to be wondering when we'll be returning to the dock. Also, the wind forecast is more favorable for the possibility of sailing if we leave Tuesday.

Yesterday the morning clouds remaining from the front that passed through Sunday night eventually cleared away and it was a warm sunny day. At 82 degrees the water temperature is perfect for swimming and scrubbing the hull. It's a few degrees cooler than when we were here the last couple of times, but still very pleasant. We didn't bother going anywhere in the "new" dinghy, instead we enjoyed a quiet day studying French, reading, and doing boat chores. After a sunset swim, John played his ukulele, then he made dinner, and we watched some TV before sleeping through an uneventful night.

I guess I should say a word about our replacement "car." Kim and Linda of S/V Endeavor were kind enough to pass on an old Achilles air-floor dinghy that had been stored away as a spare since 2009. They got a lot of use out of it before then, and John patched over a dozen holes in the tubes, air-floor, and dinghy floor (the air-floor comes out of the dinghy as a separate unit) before it would hold air and not leak water up through the dinghy floor. He also managed to fashion a pair of oars out of a spare set of plastic blades we had on board, some PVC pipe and a piece of aluminum tubing. We then tried Endeavor's old 15HP 4-stroke Envinrude but our outboard hoist was too short to get it up to Nakia's stern rail, besides being too much for the dinghy to handle. They were practically giving it to us at a very low price, so we felt terrible for returning it. John mentioned it to a local sport fishing captain who ended up buying it from Endeavor at a fairer price (for Kim and Linda), and everyone was happy in the end.

Bob, on a neighboring Hans Christian, had an old 2HP 2-stroke Evinrude for sale. After a day's worth of labor John got it running to his satisfaction, and bought it. That brings us full circle to 21 years ago when we had an old heavy Sabot for a dinghy and a similar motor for an outboard. We won't be going anywhere fast until we find something newer and stronger to replace these, but at least we'll be mobile again!

Monday, November 26, 2012

At anchor again!

Our last night in Mazatlan (with an Indio beer tower!)

Sunday afternoon we made the easy 40 minute hop out of Marina Mazatlan to a sandy beach anchorage at Isla Venados. It was only three nautical miles and we motored over relatively flat water. We were both feeling a little sick to our stomachs, not from being at sea again, but from cutting the ties to shore and being unsure of what lies ahead. It's a little hard for us to get back into the groove of cruising after enjoying so many of the amenities of life on shore. John enjoyed his house-sitting jobs in Mazatlan this summer and I loved being a CLOD (Cruiser Living On Dirt) again in Seattle. Even being on the boat tied up in a marina gave us many freedoms and luxuries that we don't have such easy access to when we're anchored out.

But once we dropped the hook I felt a peacefulness that I don't necessarily feel on shore. There are fewer distractions. We aren't compelled to have the computer running 24/7 because there's no Wi-Fi. Instead we pay more attention to our natural surroundings and interact with whoever else happens to share the anchorage. As we were getting ready to get in the water to scrub green slime off the hull a couple with two young boys stopped by to introduce themselves. They came down from Redwood City on this year's Baja Ha-Ha on an aluminum boat named Heavy Metal and we had a nice chat.

We will be preaching dinghy safety for some time to come (see previous post about our dinghy theft). Our replacement 2HP motor is chained to Nakia's stern with the biggest padlock we could find. Instead of hanging the replacement dinghy against the side of the boat John decided to try setting it down on the starboard foredeck where it rests on the forward hatch and lifelines. This way we're still able to open the hatch above our berth for fresh air at night.

John didn't get much sleep as he kept a "robber" watch through most of the middle of last night. On top of that we had a bit of lightning, thunder and rain to keep us awake. In spite of our sleepless night we are thinking about pushing on through to Isla Isabella later this afternoon, so that we can finally put Mazatlan behind us. An overnight trip would put us at Isabella at sunrise.

{GMST}22|14.160|N|106|27.678|W|Deer Island|On our way to PV{GEND}

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dinghy Theft

John sent this out to Southbounders Yahoo Group at around 2:00 this morning. I would only add that whenever I've read similar accounts by other cruisers I have always scoffed at the notion that the people on board the sailboat would not hear a sound from the thieves. I now know better. John speculates that the thieves drifted/paddled to Nakia, positioned their panga under the dinghy, and cut the hanging harness rope to lower the dinghy down into their panga. When their panga drifted back to make their escape the dinghy would have pulled against the cable still attaching it to Nakia (probably unnoticed by them until then). That noise was what woke John, but by the time he got out the companionway (throw open the heavy hatch above; remove screen in door) they had just cut the cable and he could only watch as they fired up their engine and roared off into the dark with our dinghy and outboard.

We are both sick about this loss because we've been diligent about taking the motor off the dinghy and securing it to Nakia most nights in the past. We were not fully back into cruising mode and got complacent. We returned to Marina Mazatlan this morning. John has gone to the Port Captain's office to complete his report and then we'll be figuring out how to get another dinghy/outboard so we can be on our way again.


----- Original Message -----
Date: 12 Nov 2012 09:08:26 -0000

We just had our dinghy, with outboard motor attached, stolen while at anchor at Isla de Piedra outside of Mazatlan.

The theft occurred at 1230 local [11/11/2012]. The dingy was a grey Achilles with a newly painted white floor. The outboard was a 9.8hp Tohatsu two stroke. The dingy was raised high out of the water on a halyard with the outboard mounted on the transom. The outboard was locked to the dinghy and cabled and locked to NAKIA with 3/16" lifeline wire.

The method of theft was to place a panga under the dinghy, cut the harness suspending the dinghy and then cut the cable. I was woken up by the sound of the cable pulling tight on NAKIA and was on deck in time to see the thieves cut the cable and race away in their panga.

I have been in Mexico since 2004 and this is the first time I've ever had anything stolen from NAKIA, but this theft is pretty disappointing. Normally the motor would have been mounted and chained to the stern pulpit, but just after sunset a SeaDoo boat was having trouble with its engine so I put the motor on the dinghy and went to see if I could help. Rather than put the outboard back on the rail and chain it down I raised the dinghy with a halyard and used the cable to secure it, which is nicer on the teak cap rail than the chain. There was a time when I didn't even bother with the cable.

I have reported the theft to the Port Captain via VHF channel 16 and my only question at this point is: does anyone have the phone number of one or more restaurants here at Isla de Piedra? I'm willing to pay to get the dinghy back (with or without motor) and would like to get the word out to the locals.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Mazatlan Homecoming

Here's a summary of the past three weeks since my return to John, Ziggy, and Nakia. The donkey cart parade really deserves its own entry, but hopefully the Mazatlan photo album at my Picasa link will tell the whole story! Here are just a few of those photos:

In Plaza Machado waiting for the beer carts

Julie and her sister made up as Katrinas

Canela the donkey pulling a beer cart

Arriving in Mazatlan from Seattle I was almost last off the plane. My seat was in the middle of the aircraft and they opened front and back doors so I had to wait for both directions to  clear first. That meant I was almost last in the Immigration line which everyone felt was moving much slower than normal. I finally went on through to baggage claim where I saw a huge line of people already waiting to go through the x-ray machine. By the time I finished changing into cooler clothes in the bathroom I
was dead last in the x-ray/Customs line. Then of course they wanted to open my boxes. Two officials opened the two smallest boxes, found nothing of interest, and let me go without opening the third big one (they didn't even bother with my carry on).

Nakia looks beautiful. Ziggy's already nipped my finger (not hard). AC is blasting. Life is good!

We worked non-stop today to put away everything I unpacked last night. I was pretty surprised that I managed to get all the boxes emptied yesterday and into piles for sorting today. I put things away in two main lockers and cleaned out a couple more and John took care of sorting out the items destined for the ditch and first-aid kits, and his tool area.

John had the AC on when we arrived from the airport yesterday to help me make the transition, but we didn't use it today. He'll probably zap the boat with some cool air when we go up to shower later and then let it run during the first part of the night.

This morning I managed to have a cup of coffee before the sun was up over the buildings. There was an osprey on the mast of a boat across from us and three white pelicans flying around the banks of the channel. Very pretty.

It's a relief to find I'm not going through any post-Seattle-summer, claustrophobic boat adjustment period at all this year. I love the different pace of life which is still relaxed, but there are so many things to do. And I've always enjoyed cleaning and puttering so I'm happy keeping busy with that.

Got up this morning and actually felt cold for the first time! Humid last night and a breeze this morning make it downright chilly - at least until the sun starts heating things up again.

Yesterday we had a good afternoon at the beach (Playa Bruja) with John's friend Yarnell, after an early morning bicycle ride on the malecon. Between that and our evening out celebrating Sherrell's birthday on Saturday, it was a good weekend. Now it's back to work.

We've decided to stay an extra 10 days in the marina. We had talked about going in and anchoring at the Old Harbor, but it's gotten a bad reputation for theft and we don't feel like taking the risk. So it will be nice to hang out here for a little while longer before we go out on the hook again.

The weather has definitely cooled off at night and we haven't been running the AC for days. I'm hoping John will go ahead and get it off the boat, but he's a little leery of cutting the umbilical cord just yet!

Today we spent a few hours getting the boat cleaned up. John had washed the boat before I arrived and it was already getting filthy, probably dirt from the nearby road.

When we thought we were moving to the Old Harbor tomorrow we invited Yarnell and Sonia to come along for the ride, including a stop at Deer Island. Yarnell was John's summer buddy and Sonia is his local squeeze. She has always wanted to go out on a sailboat so we're fulfilling that fantasy for her. We can anchor out at the island and dinghy in to the beach for a swim.

We're not doing anything for Halloween tonight but tomorrow night (if we're not burned out from a day in the sun) we're supposed to go in to Plaza Machado for the uniquely Mazatlan tradition of chasing four beer carts which are pulled by donkeys followed by crowds of people trying to get their cups refilled (all for free). We think this was started by Pacifico (which has a brewery here).

We had a great day out sailing with Yarnell and Sonia. We motor sailed out around both islands trying to catch a fish (nothing) and then headed in to anchor in 10' off the beach. We sat and ate lunch before they hopped in the dinghy, and I swam into the beach. I couldn't believe how warm the water was when I got in. It was almost like bath water - but that won't last too much longer. I looked for shells and then joined them in the shade of a palapa. Back out to the boat and we were actually able to sail the short distance back to the harbor entrance. Sonia kept thanking us for making her dream come true, and she obviously enjoyed herself, which makes all the work getting things ready for today worthwhile.

Sonia and Yarnell enjoying a day sail on Nakia

Late in the afternoon yesterday John suggested a walk along the length of the Malecon (beach walkway). We took a bus to the beginning of it, walked a long way down it, and caught a bus back just after a beautiful sunset. Even though it got very hazy the day before, the sun burned through just as it dipped into the horizon. Early this morning we rode the same area of the Malecon for about an hour with Sarana on bicycles. This afternoon I read and John rode his bike out to Playa Bruja with Yarnell. I opted not to go this time since they mostly sit and drink beer and I thought John could use some "guy time." We certainly have been getting our exercise!

The weather has been cloudy and downright humid (92%) the past few days. It's been pretty uncomfortable and John is regretting giving our AC unit away Tuesday night. He has a local friend who was in need of AC and it was a freebie for us (it had been stored in a dock box unclaimed for several years), so it was good karma to pass it on to her.

We had a fun afternoon out at a beach bar/restaurant called El Canoa Wednesday afternoon with Sarana and Magic Places. We went there to listen to a band that John had seen a few times over the summer. They played covers of rock guitar music. The music itself wasn't all that danceable but they were good musicians and it was an open air beach bar with a romantic sunset behind one of the islands. Plus it's always fun being out with friends doing something different for a change!

We're departing the marina tomorrow to make our way to Banderas Bay for Christmas. We'll hang out at the islands here until we start itching to move on, and then we'll slowly head south with possible stops at Isabela, San Blas, and Chacala. I'm really looking forward to getting back out on the water. I'm sure it will take quite a bit of adjusting for the two "boys" who are giving up a lot of their freedom. John will miss his bicycle and unlimited internet, and Ziggy will miss his nighttime comings and goings on the dock. Hopefully we'll all settle in and get used to the new routine without too many withdrawal pains!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Boat Jewelry

The stainless work for the new backstay chain plate is finally complete. The old chain plate was cracked along the edges and the support for the pushpit was very badly cracked. I had the chain plate fabricated over a month ago and have been waiting for the welders to get enough free time to come and finish off the pushpit.

Here's a picture of the chain plate and the vertical (slanted) tube is the new support. The pushpit itself is in pretty bad condition. We really need a entirely new stainless structure built, but that pricey project will have to wait for another day.

While the welders were working I noticed the cool bracelets they both had. I commented to Chipy about his and he pulled it off and gave it to me. They make then on their lunch break at the shop. These are real boat jewelry, because they are made of 304 stainless steel!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More work...

I've been slowly making progress on a few boat projects; re-varnishing the galley, re-painting the dinghy floorboards and re-varnishing the cabin sole. I didn't take any pictures of the dinghy floor boards because who really wants to see pictures of white paint, but here are a few pictures of the before and after of the galley and the sole (floor). The last big project is painting the exterior wood. This is just adding additional coats on the work I did last year so it shouldn't take long. I'm waiting for the weather to cool down before I start. That's scheduled for October 7th.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Well, the job has taken over two months but the foredeck is completely finished. I had to hold off posting until I finished off the final coat of paint on the bowsprit tip, which got done day before yesterday. Here are the before and after shots followed by a couple more 'afters.' 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Big days on the bowsprit project

There have been some pretty significant milestones in the bowsprit project. Here's the latest.

After the chain locker fiberglass job, I gave everything a good coat of epoxy paint. Here's the inside of the locker with the back-up rode and head parts re-installed. The wires are for the windlass, which will be re-installed after the new samson posts are in.

The foredeck has had all the teak decks removed so it needs the same non-skid preparation that the rest of the teak free deck has. This is the deck after applying 3 coats of epoxy primer and being wet sanded smooth. The rest of the deck was primed with a white epoxy primer that went on much smoother, so only one coat of primer was needed. However the new primer was brushed on pretty rough, and more primer was needed so I could wet sand it smooth.

This picture shows two things, first the completed paint on the foredeck including non-skid. The grey shape in the middle is a fiberglass spacer I made to raise the new samson post to the height of the old deck. I removed about a 1/2" of teak deck so in order to keep the bowsprit in the original location I need to make up for the old teak. The base of the new samson post is 1/4" so the spacer is another 1/4". The blue tape covers holes in the deck to keep rain water out.

Here's the 'Big News'. This is the new stainless sampson post which will receive and support the bowsprit. Thanks to Phil for bringing the 2x4 stainless pipe down! This will bolt to the deck with 3ea 1/2" bolts and 3ea 3/8" bolts. The 3/8" bolt are not visible in this picture, but are in front and are countersunk to the same level as the base plate. I was only able to get 3/8" countersunk bolts, otherwise I'd have used 1/2".

This is a pretty hard picture to understand, but it's the underside of the bow pulpit. I figured since I was doing stainless work I'd modify the roller openings so they would feed the rode better. The stainless shop misunderstood my instructions and only modified the right side roller opening so you can get a before and after idea. They are picking up the pulpit tomorrow to complete the modification.  I wish I'd taken a before picture of the entire pulpit. Part of the work the stainless shop did was to polish the entire pulpit and repair any broken welds. Linda will appreciate the difference, I'm sure. Like I said, I wish I would have taken a before picture!

Here's a picture to show the bow fiberglass repair. I was worried that if I painted the repair the paint would stand out against the old gel-coat and make the repair obvious, but I was able to get the new paint to blend with the old gel-coat pretty well. The only problem is that the new paint is shiny, so I have to dull it up so it will match.

Here's the latest paint coat (5 of 7) on the bowsprit. It's pretty smooth, and very white.

Painting has got to be the slowest process in the world. I get to the boat about 0700 and by 0900 I'm done and can't do any more painting until the next day. Multiply that by 7 coats and things can really slow down. As a result I've been keeping busy after painting by doing small projects. Here's a picture of our new GPS, which replaced a GPS we originally bought in 1995. The old GPS worked ok, that is it gave us our position, but it started to have problems with the on/off button and as a result would turn itself off or on at random moments. That can be pretty annoying, so we decided to replace it. After a lot of searching I was able to find a unit that fit in the same space.

Today after painting I removed the stove and cleaned all the places you can't normally reach with the stove in place.

That's it for now. Soon I should be test fitting and installing the bowsprit. Then it will just be a matter of re-installing all the stuff I had to take off, like the windlass, bow pulpit, foot switches, holding tank pump out fitting and roller furling. The end (of this project) is in sight!


Friday, July 06, 2012

Zenith day

Being just below the tropic of cancer, Mazatlan has its 'Zenith Day' right around the summer solstice. That's the day that the sun, at noon, will be exactly overhead. I was out the other day and was able to take a picture of the moment when the sun was pretty close to being directly overhead. The picture would probably have been more impressive if it were taken in a country were the lamp posts are installed plumb and square, but you get the idea. The inset is a close up of the shadow from the top of the light.

For what it's worth, there are actually two 'Zenith Days', one before the solstice and another after as the sun has crept to its highest point in the sky and then returns south. But the difference in the sun's angle is pretty small here in Mazatlan. By the way, don't expect to learn more by looking up 'Zenith Day' on the internet. I made it up :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Project Update

So I've been doing a lot of itchy work on NAKIA. Here's a pics of the progress. (Like I used to say when I actually had a job, never confuse activity with progress).

One of the things that I've needed to fix is a big void in the fiberglass on the starboard side of the opening for the bowsprit. After grinding it out (a lot of grinding) I filled it in with fiberglass and epoxy. This is the result after the shape has been roughed back in with a 80 grit grinding disk. Next step is to fill/fair the shape back in.

This is the itchiest job I've done in a long time. The holes for the old samson posts need to be fiberglassed over. So I added plywood core sections and ground the deck fiberglass down to a 12:1 taper. That was a lot of fiberglass grinding! There are five other grinding spots, four for the holes in the deck from the old manual windlass (it was removed in 2002!), the fifth large hole on the upper right is from the chain passage from the manual windlass. These holes were never properly fixed because I didn't want to remove the teak decks to do it. Since the teak deck is gone now, it's a good time to do a good repair.

Here's the deck after the fiberglass has been layered in. Next I'll rough grind it flush to the deck and fill/fair flat.

The rains have started here in Mazatlan. So I've had to move indoors to continue making progress. This is a picture of the interior/underside of the foredeck. This was a lot of grinding too, but not as much as the outside. You can see the plywood core patches from where the samson posts used to be. The three 'bright' spots are the holes for electric windlass foot switches and the hole where the secondary rode goes through the deck.

Here we have the fiberglass, plywood and tubing for the interior support. There will be four layers of glass next to the underside of the hull, then 1/2" plywood, then a single layer of glass (all the glass is bi-axial mat). The green tubes on the right are pieces of PVC electrical conduit that I cut in half lengthwise. This will be used to create fiberglass half-pipes which will stiffen the deck.

This is my 'workstation', also known as the Nav-Table, post fiberglass work. I put plastic down on the floor and walls to protect against dripping epoxy. I wanted to set it up in the head but there wasn't room. Thank God I don't have to sleep on board! Rather than clean all this mess up I just left it for tomorrow when all the sticky stuff should be cured.

Here's a part of the finished result. This was the hardest glass job I've ever done. Keep in mind, you're looking at the underside of the deck, so all this glass had to be placed upside down! It was a lot harder then I thought it was going to be. After the first failure, I realized I had to cut down the pieces of fiberglass into smaller sections so I could keep them under control. I started out with 9 pieces of glass and ended up with 25! I found that I could hold the piece in place with my left hand (while it drooped down around my wrist and forearm) and then use a foam roller to push the edges and corners up onto the underside of the deck. Once one or two corners were stuck I could slide my hand out of the way and use the roller to stick the rest of the piece up.

That's it for now. Hopefully the rain will stop tomorrow and I can rough grind the outside.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bowsprit Project Update

There's been quite a bit of progress the last couple days. Here are a few pictures to describe the work.

First I have a picture of the underside of the deck. The top of the picture is forward, the bottom is aft. If you think about it like you are laying on your back it might make sense.
Here we see the support structure for the sampson posts. There are two lateral beams glassed in forward and aft of the posts. A section of the fiberglass has been cut out to show the wood of the posts. The wood looks shiny because it's wet. This is one of the main problems with this design. Since the interior is entirely encased in fiberglass, any water that enters through the joint between the sampson post and the deck stays inside the fiberglass case.

The base of the sampson post has a lateral bolt that holds it to an interior spacer block (that's the middle part of the black section in the previous picture). This is a close-up of the end of the bolt showing how rusty it is. In addition to the lateral bolt, there are two fore and aft bolts that hold the sampson post to the lateral beams.

This is a close-up of one of the fore-and-aft bolts after the sampson post has been removed. It's probably stainless, but in the environment inside the fiberglass casing it rusted like mild steel.

Here is progress to date. The sampson posts and all the teak deck have been removed. The deck is solid, so from here I'll inject some penetrating epoxy and then fill in all the screw holes before sanding it clean and smooth. The holes for the old sampson post will be fiberglassed over and this stainless version will be fabricated.

One funny thing about this project, with all the anchor chain, anchors, rodes, bowsprit and pulpit removed, the waterline is up about 7 inches forward (click the image for better resolution...). I borrowed a bathroom scale to weigh some of the parts that have been removed. The sampson post and some of its supports weigh almost 40 lbs. The bowsprit, just the spar not including the pulpit, weighs 140 lbs!

Here's a little composition to show the other major problem with the existing setup. A lot of the fiberglass case is delaminating from the underside of the deck. I've done a little bit of prying to get the edge open, but it was very easy to insert the head of the pry bar under the fiberglass. All this loose glass will be removed and a new support structure will be added.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

April-May update

We haven't posted in awhile, so I thought I'd bring everyone up to date.

In April (on the 11th) Linda returned to the US from Puerto Vallarta leaving John and Ziggy on the boat for the summer. John hung out with friends in La Cruz and even took a little side trip to Yelapa.

The Yelapa trip went well. Gerry, Tom and Joe from the sailboat Eagle came along. Gerry had just arrived from the States (Tom picked him up at the airport and brought him straight to NAKIA to depart for Yelapa). Gerry had spent a lot of time at Yelapa in the 70s, so he wanted to check out all his old hang-outs. Especially his favorite gym.

On May 1, NAKIA left Puerto Vallarta behind and sailed to Mazatlan. We anchored in the old harbor. I locked up the outboard securely and rowed back and forth because of some recent thefts. I also made a major transportation purchase, my first bicycle in over 8 years. Not bad for $60 USD!

On May 18th, NAKIA moved from the old harbor to Marina Mazatlan (no theft problems in the old harbor at all while John was there). On the 19th John and Ziggy moved from NAKIA to a house where we will both be sitting until September. Ziggy felt right at home.

Of course being off the boat means it makes a great workshop. The first project is to remove the bowsprit and rebuild the inboard support. Here's the before picture.

Here's a picture with the bowsprit and pulpit removed as well as all the deck hardware.

Next all the teak comes off and the sampson posts will be removed and replaced with stainless. One diversion was a kitten that showed up in the marina. She was so sweet that I decided to take her to the local shelter to get adopted instead of letting her join the other cats that call the marina home.