Monday, September 23, 2013

Finally a Post About Projects

I don’t usually write about the work that we do on the boat. It’s more fun to write about explorations and adventures. And photos of tools aren’t much fun to look at. But I’ve had requests, so….
Michael P. and Sandy K. – this is for you.­­­
Every cruising boat has a project list, the list of things that need to be done to maintain, repair, and/or improve the boat. And usually the project list is the man’s domain. Equal rights aside, every boat has its so-called pink and blue jobs. There’s a lot of overlap, of course. Men cook. Women navigate. Men wash dishes. Women change oil. But, for most cruising couples, the mechanical, electrical, and carpentry jobs fall to the men. And cruising men love their projects. They love to plan them, shop for them, work on them, and talk about them. This seems to be the way male cruisers bond and they learn a lot from each other.
Like most women, I help as best as I can by holding the flashlight and fishing the wire through the places where Mike’s hands don’t fit,
but I don’t really understand what he’s doing. I apologize in advance to you guys who want to hear the details. I not only don’t know what Mike is doing most of the time, but I also don’t understand even when he tells me. I’ll do my best and if you email questions I promise to get the answers.

We came back from Seattle with a car full of projects and since our return, Mike has been diligently working at them. The first few jobs, although time consuming, were neither technical nor particularly interesting. We had bought a small air conditioner here in San Carlos. With 100+ temperatures this past week, getting the air conditioner running at optimum efficiency was the first order of business. Because the air conditioner is designed to fit into a house window, Mike had to modify it to work in a boat hatch.
It's not really pretty, but it works!

1/2 inch plastic shelf with hole cut out; deflector made from sheet of lightweight plastic (from TAP)
He first built a plastic shelf so that it would sit securely into the hatch, fully insulated around it, designed a deflector so that the cold air would blow down instead of out and then sewed a Sunbrella cover. It keeps the main salon comfortable on even the hottest days as long as we are plugged in to shore power. When we leave the dock, of course, it has to be completely disassembled and stowed.
At West Marine in Olympia we found jerry cans for diesel, gasoline, and water that are of uniform shape and size. Because they fit more compactly onto our deck, they are both safer and more attractive than the hodge podge of cans we used to have. Mike built a platform which holds them securely in place, raised a few inches off the deck allowing the running rigging to move freely below and also keep the cans from scuffing the teak. Eventually he will sew Sunbrella covers for them which will protect them from the sun and extend their useful life.
Another Seattle purchase was a 12 volt portable freezer. In Mexico you must have plenty of ice cubes for limonadas and margaritas and our refrigerator’s tiny little freezer space just wasn’t up to the task. I wanted an Engel but the model I was looking for was back ordered everywhere including on-line. So we bought a Dometic which was a little cheaper. I hope the quality is as good. It’s about the size and shape of an ice chest and will be great for storing meats and pre-cooked meals for passages. It can also function as a refrigerator with the flip of a switch. Mike ran a fused, dedicated electrical circuit for it and we plugged it in this afternoon. Another task checked off the project list!
For various reasons, we don’t use the wet locker in the main salon for its intended purpose. So Mike installed shelving and now we have an easily accessible area for dry food storage. Like I said, not a very interesting or technical job but sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.
Our old alternator that was repaired twice in Mexico and once in Seattle still didn’t work when Mike re-installed it last week. So, the new, back-up alternator is now our only alternator and we will need to purchase a new, new alternator for back-up. It is obviously impossible to carry a replacement for all the equipment on a boat, but we have learned that a spare alternator is a wise investment.
The really big jobs are still ahead. Installing solar panels that will be sewn onto the dodger and the bimini, and hard wiring the Webasto air conditioner come next. I’ll be posting about those projects as they evolve.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Coming "Home" to Mexico

It has been almost 6 weeks since we left Mexico to spend some time back in the States. When we drove ­across the border from Arizona into Mexico yesterday it really felt like a homecoming. Although Mike has a house in Washington where my daughter Danielle lives and I have­ a house in Massachusetts where my daughter Stephanie lives, wherever the boat is feels like home to me and I felt a little surge of joy as we drove into Nogales.

Getting to the States entailed a ten and a half hour bus trip from Guaymas to Phoenix to catch our flight to Seattle. We could have flown from Tucson, saving 2 hours of bus time, but the Phoenix flight was nonstop and the Tucson flight involved a layover. The bus had huge plush recliner seats and we left at 11:30pm so we were able to sleep most of the way. Twice we all had to get off the bus and send our luggage through x-ray while the bus itself was thoroughly inspected inside and out. The first was at a military check point in Mexico at 3:30am and the second at 6am at the border crossing .I’m glad that I’ve learned a little Spanish or it might have been scary when the soldiers with machine guns got onto the bus and started barking orders at us. Although the bus was nearly full, it looked like we were the only non-Mexican passengers and there was no one to translate. One interesting thing I’ve noticed in Mexico is that most waiters, waitresses, and sales clerks who work in tourist areas speak English. Most government officials and people involved with public transportation do not.
Seattle was awesome as always. I was able to spend time with my daughters and grandchildren, do some recreational shopping, and visit with friends. It was gorgeous and warm and sunny almost every day. Seattle has to be the most beautiful city in the world when the sun is shining and still looks pretty good even in the rain. While in Seattle we needed to buy replacements parts for the boat including a new outboard motor, not the sort of thing you can pack into a carry-on. So, rather than fly back to Mexico, we drove my car stuffed full with parts and tools as well as our luggage and a few grocery items that we can’t easily find here in Mexico. Whether or not it was cost effective is debatable but we made a fun road trip out of it including 2 days in Las Vegas

and a trip to Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam was, by the way, the only place our car was pulled over and inspected.

Because we already have our Mexican tourist visas and requisite Mexican auto insurance, we drove right through the Mexican customs check point at Nogales and the Mexican immigration check point several miles down the road. At either place we could have been randomly chosen for inspection, but were lucky to get green lights at both places and drove on without even having to show our passports. I was, as usual, prepared for the worst but it was a breeze and we were back home in San Carlos in time to catch the end of the USA vs. Mexico soccer match over dinner in a local restaurant.