Season Six Begins

Season Six Begins
By sv Prairie SeaShell on 13 Dec, 2011 7:37 PM

Season 6, November has arrived and we are on the move again ...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

San Carlos bay, looking at Goats Tits mountain.Alas, November has arrived and we are on the move again … Margaret drove us to the airport and we boarded WestJet once again for trip to Phoenix. This time, it was a rather bumpy ride, but we arrived on schedule, collected our luggage and took a cab directly to the Tufesa Bus station. We generally take the evening bus, The Executivo Class with comfy lazy boy type seats, but unfortunately ridership must be down, and the executivo was cancelled today, so we just took the next available bus … which is still a very comfortable ride.

We thought we were going to have company all the way to Guaymas when David & Stella from s/v Morning Star boarded the bus. Unfortunately, by the time we reached Tucson, they had to get off the bus and call an ambulance to take Stella to the hospital. We found out when they finally arrived in San Carlos, over a week later, that Stella had a severe case of food poisoning caused from eating at a Steak House in Phoenix.

As soon as we reached Mexican border, we had the bus driver show us where to go to get our Tourist Visas. Didn’t want a repeat of last years occurrence at the immigration office. It was very easy to get the visa here at the border, you fill out the paper work yourself, and you can pay in the same place, no running to the bank and back again.

It was all done in 10 minutes, and when we got back to the bus, we were told just to get aboard, no need to take the luggage off and press the button. Don’t know if anyone had to press the button, or if maybe the bus driver got a green light for all of us. In any case, it all was very easy and smooth and we were back on our way again.

It was still dark when we arrived in Guaymas, so we stayed at the bus depot for a breakfast of coffee and granola bars, then took a taxi to San Carlos. When we arrived at the yard, Reuben, the night security guard, recognized us and let us walk thru the work yard to find Prairie SeaShell. Unfortunately she was not in there, guess she was still in dry storage. Reuben said he would contact the office for us, as soon as it opened at 8:00am. Meantime, Martine, the tractor operator, arrived and he contacted the office for us. Unfortunately both of the people we e-mailed to have the boat moved from dry storage to the work yard no longer work for Marina San Carlos, so no one got our message. Finally, it was arranged to move us first thing in the morning, but they did get one of the yard guys to drive us into the storage yard so we could put our suitcases on board.

The good news is that Don’s brother Bill and wife Judy had arrived the night before, and we were able to spend the day with them in their trailer. Now, when we arrived at the office the next day, we discovered that their idea of ”first thing” was going to be 11:30, so, OK, we’ll go for breakfast! When we returned at 11:30, they told us they were having problems with the trailer, and were fixing it right now so they could move us at 1:00. So, we toured around San Carlos a bit, went for a walk along the beach, got some groceries, and finally by afternoon, we were finally un-packing and washing off many layers of red desert dust and bird poop! Evening found us back at Bill’s trailer for supper of chuleta ahumada (smoked pork chops) and we got Judy hooked up with a Wi-Fi antenna.

Chores, Chores, and more Chores!

Next day it was down to some serious work. This is the repair job that Don has to deal with this year. For many years now, he has done a little patch here and a little patch there to try to stop the water seeping into the bilge. When we put the boat away last spring, he removed all the fibreglass off the keel so it could dry out completely and is now going to replace it all, after filling in all the cracks that he can now see very easily .After two new coats of a much heavier fibreglass cloth, and lots more epoxy, it’s time for a new coat of bottom paint. We still had one gallon of bottom on board, left over from the last paint job, but we will need another to do two coats. In other years, bottom paint was readily available at any Comex Paint store, of which there are many in the area. Just to keep things interesting, this year, no one has bottom paint available. Apparently the company is doing a major overhaul to the style of label on the paint cans, and no paint is available for at least another week.

And what would the season be without a battery problem. Sure enough, the bank with the Mexican LTH batteries is not taking a proper charge. Once again, hauled it to the Centro de Servicios LTH for them to put it on their charger . After a few days, they claim it is starting to take a charge, so they are not willing to replace it. Hopefully it will keep charging, at least until we get to Mazatlan where there is another Service Center.

The next few days were spent doing various chores, putting on sails, dropped anchor chain to install markers, replaced the heat exchanger, cleaned the stainless rails and the propeller, changed out the alternator, and installed a new battery switch and patched a bicycle tire. Then it was on to washing down the sides of the boat with a soapy solution, up and down the ladder over 50 times in the day. Don drilled a hole in the hull for a new thru hull for the water maker and worked on changing the anti-siphon hose in the aft head.

And who says retirement is relaxing ??? Finally received an e-mail from the paint store to say paint will be in on Monday. Don got out the sander to do a final sanding before painting and nothing went right. First the sander broke down and had to borrow one from John and next he managed to get some dirt in his eye, the good one of course, so time to call it quits for today.

Since it looks like paint will be here soon and we might be able to leave next week, better get a few more things looked after, tightened up the keel bolts, inflated the dingy, filled up with water, paid our dues at the office and booked a splash down date.

Tried to start up the engine, but no go. Don thought the problem might be related to the new battery switch he installed, so he re-checked all of his wiring and all seemed correct. Took out the starter motor too ! It’s OK. After spending the better part of the day trying to figure out the problem, he finally noticed that the ground on the engine was disconnected. He must have done that when we left in the spring and had forgotten all about it. Now, she turns over instantly, providing we use the house bank of batteries … it seems the LTH starter battery doesn’t have enough power to crank her over.

The paint that was supposed to arrive on Monday finally arrived on Wednesday. Alma from the Comex store drove it right to the work yard for us, and Don had it all on within a few hours. Now, a day to dry and we should be on our way! Except … we noticed a little drip in the valve on one of the new water tanks, so we’ll empty the tank into the other side and goop up the seal. We turned on the water pump and got about 4 litres out when we heard a swoosh of water. We hoped someone had just dumped out some water outside, but of course not. One of the stainless steel hose clamps under the floor had broken. So much for a nice dry bilge this year, we now have gallons of water to pump and mop out! We quickly proceeded to change out all the hose clamps under the floor as they are all showing signs of rust.

Finally, after three weeks in the yard, we were being loaded on the trailer to go back to the water. Started up the engine, before the trailer left, she started right away, but it did squawk terribly loud, I thought we had some very big birds outside, but it quit squealing right away, so we headed over to the fuel dock to fill up, even though the GPS that was working just fine yesterday, didn’t seem to want to work today. We know our way to Guaymas, we will fiddle with it there.

The swells made the first half hour of the trip a little rolly, but it settled down quickly, the sun came out, and we had a nice motor boat ride to Guaymas. We could have put the sails up, mostly for show, but Don was too busy trying to get the GPS to work. When we pulled into our Secret Marina in Guaymas, Carlos (Securidad) was waiting on the dock. We poured a few cokes and talked with him for a while. I told him we had a small engine problem (the engine was idling a little rough), he asked if we wanted him to call a mechanic, or if we needed anything else, come and see him in the guard shack. I told him Don was my mechanic, and the builder of the boat, so he would be able to fix the problem. He said we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Enroute to Topolobampo

If you have "Google Earth" installed on your computer click on the link below to see the entrance to Topolobampo.


We did depart the next morning with the sunrise, and made our way down the mainland coast towards Topolobampo.

First stop was Punta Lobos. We had anchored there previously, but that anchorage point was still a little rolly, so went back about 3 miles to get into the shelter of the sand bar. It settled down enough to make supper, and the rocking should have lulled me to sleep, except there are way too many things that go bump in the dark and I can’t tune out the noise.

On one of my trips outside to tie down the swim ladder so it wouldn’t bang, I found a pod of dolphins circling us. Their eyes were like little neon lights every time they surfaced. Watching them for a while made it all worth while putting up with the little inconveniences of life at sea. We left Punta Lobos around 2:30 in the morning under a very bright full moon. If I have to sail at night, I certainly prefer to do it under a full moon. Swells have settled down, or a least we are travelling in the same direction as the swells, so the ride this morning was quite pleasant.

Continued all day, no wind, no swells, we did have sun, but still not quite warm enough for my liking. Next stop was at Santa Barbara, about 10 miles NW of Yavaros … miles & miles of sandbars and a depth of about 20ft, which was a little more comfortable than yesterdays 11ft anchorage. A panga approached just as we were dropping anchor, I thought we were going to have some fresh fish for supper, but they just circled around, then went on their way.

I made some cookies while Don had a little nap, then we had an early supper in the cockpit. Just as we were discussing the possibility of a long walk and maybe a little shelling on the beach, a very large wolf appeared from out of the brush. Maybe not such a great place for a walk! It was beautiful anchorage though, no swells or breaking waves, just lots of birds to listen to. I Told Don I’d better set the alarm if we needed to be up at 2AM again as it’s so peaceful here, we could sleep right through the night. That is, if the wolves don’t howl all night, and sure enough, just as our heads hit the pillow, the howling started. It only lasted a few minutes, must have been Mom telling the kids she had caught supper – we heard the pups answer her, then it was quiet.

Left Santa Barbara just after 2AM, there was a full moon, but it was hidden behind the clouds. No swells today, but we had wind on the nose all day, so it slowed us down and we won’t be able to make Topolobampo in the daylight, so we are pulling in early at Punta Ahome. Don is getting quite adventurous, trying out these little anchorages that hardly no one goes to. We could see a shrimper anchored in there, so it worked for us following the shrimper yesterday, we’ll try it again. Lots of depth in here, and again, miles of sand dunes. But since the wind is still fairly strong and we are over a mile off shore, don’t think we’ll dingy to shore. The wind did die down by late afternoon and it was quite comfortable and a little warmer. We had supper in the cockpit, but as soon as we had the dishes done and were ready to crawl into bed, the wind died completely and we started to roll with the swells. No sleeping tonight!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


We arrived at the entrance to Topolobampo around 9:30 in the morning. It’s a dog leg channel that has been dredged to 50-60 feet, but you must stay in the channel. We could see breakers just beyond many of the markers and birds sitting on sand bars. It’s a wide channel, and as you get further in, there are so many pangas (we counted 14 in one spot), that it’s hard to see the markers. Cut one too close and were down to 9 feet. Finally found the entrance to the marina, of course they were not answering the radio.

We could see several sail boats on the dock, so I tried radioing them, but no answer. Finally saw someone on the dock directing us around to the back side of the doc. We were greeted by Lief & Jackie of S/V Dodger Two from Edmonton. We joined them and Bob & Karen S/V RealTime for dinner that evening. Lots of chores the next day, dishes, defrost the fridge, repair aft head and wash off the salt so we could do laundry.

Took a quick walk into town with Jackie, she showed me how to get to the grocery store, a real nice, well stocked Santa Fe. Went for a walk with Don later in the day, and met up with Little Bean, a polio stricken launcha driver who takes people on estuary tours. Will have to try to meet up with him when we return to Topo when we have a little more time. Our dock mates Ralph and Barbara on m/v Pacific high had noticed how badly scratched and discoloured the windows on our dodger had become.

He loaned us his polisher and some 3M polish and within an hour or so, we could see out again! Went on a sight seeing tour in the afternoon, up the side of the hill, thru some very little pathways, trying to find our way to the mirador (LookOut). We ended up on the roof of a house just above the mirador.



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