Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Merry Christmas Moments

Don’t worry, we are still alive.  We have just been so busy that I have not had a chance to sit down and think about writing.  Currently we are docked at Paradise Village Marina, almost exactly where we were a month ago when our guests came for Christmas.  Our stop in Banderas Bay was originally supposed to be for four days and here we are past the one month mark. Some cruisers call this area the black hole and now we understand why.  Still, if you have to be stuck somewhere a beautiful Mexican bay teaming with whales, surrounded by lush tropical mountains is not a bad option.

So, why are we still here?  First, after the rush down the Baja coast, it was a desire to relax and then by the time we were ready to move again the wind was coming out of the south.  So, since we have no strong desire to battle our way through headwinds we started working on some more major boat projects.  Puerto Vallarta is, according to many of the cruisers we have met, really the last stop on the way south to get quality boat parts and services.  When we bought Moments nine months ago we knew that we would need to get new bottom paint; there were some repairs to the hull that were looking bad and the paint was running thin.  When the paint is thin it becomes a big job keeping the barnacles at bay because it is the toxic metals in the paint that scares those suckers off.   We had been anchored for a while in La Cruz and when Adam finally dove the bottom with a paint scraper I don’t think you could actually see through the reef that had formed on our hull.  We have scraped the bottom a few times but it is a big job when you don’t have scuba equipment and the boat is rolling in the waves at anchor.  We finally decided that it was time to haul out.

After about two weeks of haggling on prices and searching what seemed like the entire country for the right kind of paint, last Thursday we hauled out at Opequimar Boat Yard in Puerto Vallarta.  We were a little nervous going into it, especially since most of the business down here is for power boats which are often lifted differently, painted differently, etc.  In addition, as you know, our budget it TIGHT.  However, I have to say that the whole process was flawless.   We were lifted at 9AM on Thursday, Arturo (our wonderful painter) and his crew got right to work sanding the hull, they painted the next day and we were back in the water at noon on Saturday.  They even repaired all of the blisters (correctly I might add) and greased the prop for what we considered to be a deal of a price.  Arturo is the third generation from his family to work on boats and he is getting ready to retire and hand the business over to his sons.  They work long days, every day, all year long; no time for weekends or holidays.  In addition, Arturo handles most of the sailboats in the yard so we could, very slightly, relax and feel like our home was in good hands.  In the end we actually paid less than we thought we were going to pay and we didn’t get any surprises.  Moments is just as strong and safe and we thought she was.

While Arturo and his crew were working on the outside, Adam and I were hard at work on the inside of the boat.  We replaced some of the seacocks, which let water in and out of the boat, and most importantly replaced the steering cables which had been improperly installed before and were showing some wear.  We also go to live on the boat at Opequimar, a rare thing for boat yards, so we could do some of the work at night when the sun was down, shower regularly and save the money on a hotel room.  Now we are back in Paradise Village, the only marina in the bay with potable water, to fill up our tanks and, finally, provision to head south.  If only the weather will hold…

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Exploring the ruins of a Spanish cathedral in San Blas

Cruising (aka doing boat repairs in exotic locations) is full of ups and downs.  We have some really nice days in the sun: exploring local places, eating local food, swimming off the boat and catching big fish.  However, much of our schedule revolves around the massive amount of work it takes to keep this home of ours afloat.  Puerto Vallarta is, supposedly, the last big place as you go south to get items for a sail boat at any kind of reasonable price.  Now that we have been traveling aboard Moments for five months we know more about what we need and what we don't need. We are also in the midst of doing maintenance projects that we would have had to do even if we were still parked in Seattle.  I have mentioned before that our life includes many lists, and the boat work list has been long.  However, I am happy to report that in the last few weeks it has shrunk considerably.  I think Adam is so tired of doing boat work that he actually does a little dance and grabs a beer every time he gets to cross something off the list.  Currently I am singing his praises because yesterday he put his wonderful electrical engineering brain to work and re-wired part of our electrical system (staying up to 4AM) to fix a problem we had with our batteries and he still got up in the morning to make be birthday pancakes!
The remains of our old windlass after its first motor overhaul
Adam going a little crazy with the teak work.
Each boat has its problems and in general we have been very happy with Moments.  We feel fortunate that we have not found anything so problematic that it has really limited our plans for this year.  Sure, the paint is flaking off in places and our windlass died after only a few uses, but the boat is solid, she handles well and for her age is in remarkably good condition.  So you may be asking yourself, if things are so rosy then what is all this work you are doing?  Well in the last week we have totally overhauled the refrigerator ripping out the old (moldy and wet...ewww) insulation, stripping all the caulk, replacing the old insulation with something that hopefully...um...insulates and re-caulking the entire box.  We also brushed off the compressor with a toothbrush and troubleshooted the wiring, which appears to be original.  While the caulk was drying and we were madly trying to consume all of our food before it spoiled we also replaced the jib halyard, refinished all of the exterior teak, scrubbed and painted the engine mounts, re-bedded a leaking window, wired and installed a switch in the galley for the propane, troubleshot multiple electronic devices, climbed the mast to replace light bulbs and check out the rigging and last but not least totally restructured our head and finally, permanently installed our composting head.  In addition, many of these projects required shopping missions and I have come to learn that any "run to the store", no matter how small, takes at least a day in Mexico
John and Adam brainstorming about boat work

Adam with the repaired windlass

Now you may say...wow...these people sound like they are quite handy.  The truth is we are both doing a lot of things we have never done before and have no clue how to handle.  I am not clueless with a screwdriver and Adam definitely has an edge with the electrical systems but we have a whole library here on the boat and are fortunate to have 3G service where we are anchored.  Yeah for Google.  In spite of the fact that we are working hard and often don't believe that we are actually on vacation we are excited about what we are learning and it is quite a triumph when things start working the way they should or you want them to. I figure that these skills will come in handy even after we make it back to dry land, and maybe, possibly if there is another boat in our future.

Lastly, both Adam and I really want to thank our friends and family for all of the Christmas gifts we received.  We would not have been able to do many of these projects without your support.  Thank you!  Much love from Mexico.