Marina Seca

Marina Seca
By sv Prairie SeaShell on 13 Jul, 2011 8:22 PM

Once again, this season, we flew from Calgary to Phoenix and took the Executivo Class Bus to San Carlos. We were more than happy to say adios to the snow, even the Grand Canyon was covered in the white stuff.

Marina Seca, San Carlos

Once again, this season, we flew from Calgary to Phoenix and took the Executivo Class Bus to San Carlos. We were more than happy to say adios to the snow, even the Grand Canyon was covered in the white stuff.

Arrived in San Carlos after having spent the day in Phoenix in the company of our friends (and taxi drivers) Jim & Judy. They picked us up at the airport, took us on a little shopping spree to pick up a few supplies, then we stopped for supper. We had a little time to spare before we headed to the bus depot, so Jim treated us to a picture show of their many years of cruising aboard their sailboat "The Great Escape".

All was well aboard PSS, although she was a little more dirty than in the past two years because there has been no rain recently to clean off the desert dust. We’re not complaining though, we have power, water, and even internet in the yard, much better than when we returned last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Jimena.

These cows were grazing on what was a river of water after Jimena.

Now the task at hand is to remove the tarps, clean her up, and see how quickly we can get her in the water.

Bad Battery…again

Here we go again, as soon as we start to check things out, the first problem we encounter is a low battery. Don checked them all, and found the source of the problem very quickly. It was one of the two new batteries we received on warranty exchange in Manzanillo last season.

I pulled out the warranty card and found that we had only a few days left on the warranty so we need to get into the Centro de Servico quickly. I put out a call on the radio net in the morning to see if anyone was driving into Guaymas and our neighbors on Zoe I kindly agreed to take us to town later in the day.

When Don purchased batteries last season in Guaymas, there were many employees in the shop, but no one spoke any English, so I was prepared to tell my story in Spanish. To our surprise, Daniel met us at the door, immediately put the battery on the load tester and confirmed that the battery was dead, and he spoke to us in perfect English.

What a difference from last year’s experience. He told us it is policy that he must put the battery on the charger overnight, but if it doesn’t charge, which we knew it wouldn’t, he would have a new one for us tomorrow.

Things are looking up ... when we arrived the next day, the new battery was ready and waiting! Success ... now, back to the boat to reinstall it.

Prairie Folk

Just as we were finishing supper on Sunday night, we heard someone coming up the ladder. Don’s brother Bill and wife Judy had just arrived from Saskatchewan. They pull their trailer to Mexico every year, and this year, made a detour to San Carlos to come and visit us and the Prairie SeaShell.

They had planned to stay in a nearby campground, overlooking the Ocean, only to find out it is closed, and the only other campground close by is too small to fit their trailer. They made their way to Marina Seca and parked just outside the gate.

We had a nice visit with them, the following day took a tour over the hill towards Marina Real … an area that we have not really visited because I just can’t manage the big hills on my bike. In the evening, we showed off our photos from Guatemala and told them all about our trip, and got to see photos from many of their adventures.

Another problem encountered

When Don started doing the alignment on the prop shaft, he noticed another problem. The mixer elbow that had plugged up last season now has a crack along the exhaust side … now what?

He spoke to Garth, a fellow who has lived here for many years, and does boat repairs, maintenance etc. He suggested we take it to the Hernandez Bros in Guaymas as they have repaired many of these before. Since we had been there before, we knew exactly how to get there, so off we went immediately.

Luiz says he can fix it, and it will probably be OK for this season, but, he could build us a new one, out of stainless steel, (currently it is made of cast iron) have it ready in 3 or 4 days, at a cost of about $300. Don’t know what a new one is worth back home, but think we’ll have to check into it. We’ll see how the repair job works out.

Down and Out All Week-end

The day after we got the mixer elbow taken into the machine shop, Don spent the day changing out another engine mount. That evening, he complained he was feeling rather achy all over, and hoped it was just from spending the day bent over in the engine room.

But of course not, that night, he came down will a dilly of a flu … fever, chills, diarrhea etc and was out for the whole weekend. Guess it was his turn this season, last year, same thing happened to me while we were in Guaymas. Anyway, he was feeling better on Monday, so Tuesday morning we went back to Guaymas to pick up the elbow.

Got it installed the next day, tested it in the yard, and all seems well. The batteries still don’t seem to be working as well as our original ones, hope they will straighten out when we start using them on a regular basis.

Now, we’re ready to go, but unfortunately the tides are too low all this week to put us back in.

Splash Down!

There must have been a cancellation for a haul out because we had been told the earliest we could go back into the water was Tuesday. However, on Thursday afternoon Francisco asked us if he could change our splash date. We told him we really would like Saturday or Monday, and he was now able to accommodate. Saturday morning it is, 7:00 AM.

The trailer arrived right on time on Saturday and we were back in the water by 8:00am. Engine started OK, but unfortunately there wasn’t much exhaust water coming out ... not good. Don went to the office to see if we could stay on the haul out dock for a few hours, but, was told tide was going down fast, we had about 20 minutes to move, or we’d be on the bottom.

So, he took a slip for the night until we could tackle the exhaust problem.

We did find a hose clamp that was a little loose, but the biggest problem was that the engine was sucking air through the aft head. A seal in the toilet was leaking so had to pull the toilet apart to rectify the problem. Luckily nothing too serious and he had it all put back together in time to go to Marina Cantina for lunch. Keeping my fingers crossed that we have no more issues to deal with today.

Great trip around the corner to Guaymas … sunshine & calm seas, just the way I like it. We had requested a slip for Tuesday, so we were very pleased that when we radioed the Marina, Marlene answered, and she did have a slip for us, in fact, we could have our choice of two.

There were a couple of cruisers on the dock ready to take our lines, but we did have to plow through the mud about 10 feet away from the dock, no big problem, it’s really soft and sludgy!

Went to the office to check in, then spent the rest of the day washing the San Carlos desert off of Prairie SeaShell.

The next two days were dedicated to getting our legal immigrant status, aka Tourist Visa. We had been fore-warned by another cruiser that there may be a problem getting them in Guaymas this year. He had been told by the Immigration Office that he had to go back to the border at Nogales, and I didn’t like that idea, a seven hour round trip bus ride just to pay some money and get a little piece of paper.

So, I thought I’d try my luck at the office in Guaymas. In my best Spanish, I told the officer I needed to buy our tourist visa, and as soon as he started to shake his head, I told him we just arrived on our boat and that made all the difference in the world.

He immediately handed me the paper work to take to the bank to pay for them, and he just asked us to return tomorrow with a letter from the Marina stating when we had arrived. Returned the following day with the letter and our receipt from the bank and left a few minutes later (Mexican minutes that is ) with visas in hand. Now that wasn’t so hard.

Wednesday, although the sun was shining in the morning, the temperature was dropping quickly and the wind was increasing steadily. Something’s wrong here, two years ago, only about two hundred miles south of here, we were basking by the pool everyday with temperatures of 25 to 30 degrees.

By afternoon we were completely socked in with dust, and by evening we had winds of 30kn, gusting over 40kn. Sure glad we were tied up at a dock, although sleep that night was almost impossible with the winds howling through the rigging.

When we awoke the next morning, temperature was 4 degrees, 2 degrees colder than in Calgary. So it’s time to fire up the cabin heater that hasn’t been used since the boat was in the back yard at home.

It wouldn't run, probably has an air lock in the fuel, and that could take all day to rectify, so next option, fire up the engine for a while, that will warm things up.

Well, that was a disappointment too, although the engine did finally start, it did a lot of groaning and turned over way too many times. At that rate, we’ll be burning out the starter motor, so there still appears to be something wrong.


Yes, we have encountered another problem ... this time the glow plugs on the engine are burned out. Although Don had checked for power to the glow plugs, and that seemed fine, he now decided to remove them to check.

Sure enough , all three are dead. If the temperatures had been “tropical” we probably wouldn’t have noticed the problem, but since it has been so cold, they are really needed to start the engine. Thanks to our friend Jerry from s/v Manu Wai, we hunted all over Guaymas and Empalme looking for new ones, but no luck.

After the wild goose chase around Guaymas and Empalme for Glow Plugs, decided to try the internet. Spent better part of the morning searching, but did find suppliers in different states of Mexico and also e-mailed (in Spanish) an Isuzu dealer in Hermosillo, about 1 1/2 hour drive away. He replied that he did not have the plugs available, but gave us the name of someone in Nogales who might be able to help.

Meanwhile, we decided to try the Auto Zone store here in Guaymas. They don’t really deal in diesel engines, but thought they might be able to order them for us if we gave them the phone numbers of the various places we had found on the internet.

One of the fellows there spoke a little English, and was trying to be very helpful and did make a few phone calls for us. However, this was Sunday, and most places were closed, and since Monday was a holiday in Mexico, he suggested we return on Tuesday and he would try again. OK … next we tried a local mechanic shop, he also told us to return on Tuesday and he would see if he could find them.

So, we are at a standstill now, so on to other projects like repairing a tear on the bimini cover and re-stitching a seam on one of the batten pockets on our main sail. Brad from JoJo came over to tell us that he has friends going towards Tucson on the weekend, and if we can find glow plugs in the vicinity of his travels, we will pick them up for us.

Back to the internet, found a Napa Dealer who says he will try to find them for us. Called him the next day, says he can get them, but they have to come from California, he will try to have them there by Friday. Since that sounds a little doubtful, thought we would keep trying.

Went back to Auto Zone on Tuesday, now they are too busy and don’t want to even talk to us, let alone make phone calls for us. Tried the local mechanic again, he now says he has a son coming to visit on the weekend from the LA area, and if he can find them, he will bring them down to us.

Although I gave Ramon (the mechanic) the telephone number at the Marina and told him to leave a message if he found the plugs, he showed up at the boat the next morning. The good news was, he said his son found plugs, but the cost was going to be $165 US dollars for three plugs … yikes … the Napa Dealer only wanted $57 for a box of four. Think we’ll take our chances with the Napa Dealer.

Next option that opened up to us was a friend of Jerry’s was coming to Alamos next week and he was leaving from Vancouver. Our diesel engine dealer is in the Vancouver, and we could have the plugs sent to Jerry’s friend’s house, and he would bring them down for us.

This would take a little longer, but at least it seemed like a sure bet. Called Klassen Diesel and got the order placed, we could cancel if the Napa guy came thru, but when we called him again, it seemed even less likely that he would have them in time. Sure enough, we called Napa again on Saturday morning, and they hadn’t arrived … so now we just have to wait … but I’m certain we can find enough projects to keep us busy.

For example, next day, Don spent some time trying to re-design the companion way stairs. He has another battery switch that has to be installed under there, and he has never been happy with the design, so now if the time to deal with a change.

Went for a walk to the local lumber yard (maderario) to see if there would be some oak plywood available there. He did have a good selection, but all big 4 x 8 sheets, and we only need less than a half sheet. He suggested we try a local carpenter shop (Carpinteria Lopez), but during the thinking process, Don came up with a way to redesign, using the same lumber. Just had to make the front panel of the second stair removable, not a perfect solution, but better.

Next, while Don went to help Jerry with an electrical problem, I went for a walk with Vicky and Brad from JoJo.

There was a cruise ship in town today, and there was entertainment etc. set up on the the malecon. Cruise ships pulling into Guaymas is a relatively new happening, so lots of local out to take in the sights.

Next day, visited with Ted & Claudia from s/v Pelican who just returned from a visit with their friends in Tuscon. They were also waiting for a parcel to be sent by UPS and it never arrived either.

In the afternoon went to the new Sam’s Club with Jerry (our private chauffeur) and stocked up on pop, coffee etc. Then I made dinner for all of us, mole chicken and baked apples. Finally found a mole sauce that I can make that has no bread crumbs in it, so Don can have it.

And finally to finish off the week, Don got to installing the new battery switch, I did some laundry and washed port holes, and had a quick visit from a sea lion who surfaced right between the boat and the dock … scared me half to death … don’t usually see them right in the marina.

And that was just a typical week of life in a marina in Mexico!


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