Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Megayachts in Huatulco
We were both a little slow getting started on Monday morning due to the lingering effects of jet lag. Scott strung up the wi-fi extender.   Although it will ultimately need to be mounted on the mizzen mast, it does allow us to get wi-fi in the boat, which is handy, but allows us to waste too much time playing games and surfing the internet.  I thought I would convert my Netflix account to a streaming plan so we could watch movies, but the only plan available here costs $99/month, so I abandoned that idea.  Eventually, we got up a head of steam and went ashore.  We had not paid the marina before we left, so they were eager to see us.  The used pump for our autopilot (keeping our fingers crossed that it will work) that Scott had ordered from the Raymarine shop in La Cruz had arrived.  I paid the marina for the month we had already been there, but we were unable to agree on what to pay after that.  There are different rates for daily, weekly, and monthly tenancy and they do not allow you to change from one to the other.  If one is going to be here more than 15 days, the monthly rate is cheaper.  We still had no idea how long we would be in Huatulco, so we put them off another day, even though the main office wanted to know what rate we would pay for their forecast, until we could visit the generator shop.

Machine Shop in La Crucecita
Heat Exchanger and Rail
We walked up to the ATM to get another batch of pesos in case our generator was ready.  We had a little trouble flagging a cab down in front of the bank, but a short walk up to the busy Pemex station yielded several.  Our cabbie took us up to the shop where we had left our generator but, of course, it wasn't ready.  The repairman claimed to have had difficulty acquiring the parts, but said he now had them and the generator would be ready by Friday afternoon.  We suspected he just didn't want to start on such a big job until he was sure we were coming back.  We had expected that, although it was still a disappointment.  We hopped back in the cab and drove around the corner to the machine shop.  Apparently, they had more faith in us.  Our motor mounting rail and heat exchanger were ready.  They claimed they could not find a leak in the heat exchanger, but it was plugged up.  They had cleaned it out and reassembled it for us and built a shiny new replacement rail for a total of 1100 pesos (<$85.)

With all those heavy parts, we couldn't do much else, so we took the taxi back to the marina.  Scott dropped the parts off at the boat and we turned around and walked back up to the grocery store to purchase some provisions.  It was hot, so we took a taxi back to the marina.  It was two bucks well spent. Our brief visit to the U.S. had left us unaccustomed to the heat and humidity.

New Freezer
Scott pretty much slept for the rest of the week.  One of the reasons that we had gone back to the United States was to get Scott some help for his depression.  He claimed that he was not nearly as depressed as before, but his body was requiring a lot of sleep as he adjusted to the antidepressants.  Knowing that we had a long list of projects to complete before we could leave for Puerto Chiapas, I was champing at the bit. Tuesday, I yanked the old freezer out of its compartment under the dinette.  We had hoped to fit the new one in there by dropping it down into the bilge below the floorboards, but the curve of the hull did not leave us quite enough space.  My next idea was to stow the spare dinghy in that locker and locate the freezer in the aft cabin where the dinghy had resided.  That scheme was also doomed to failure.  The transom of the dinghy was half an inch to long to fit in the locker, even after re-rolling it as tightly as possible.  Plan C is to put the dinghy under the V-berth where the life vests are stowed and relocate the life vests to under the dinette.  Executing that plan will have to wait until the generator can be reinstalled, as the generator case is in the way.  Fortunately, the freezer fits in the aft cabin just fine and actually looks a lot better than the stack of junk it replaced.  It may not fit anywhere, but it does hold more than the old one and seems to run colder.  There is an outlet to plug it into the 110 power, but Scott will need to rig a 12 volt power source before we can use it while at sea.

Screen with Shade Open
Screen with Shade Unrolled
Knowing that the generator wouldn't be ready until at least Friday, I paid the marina for another month.  We could stay until March 25th without incurring further marina expense, although we really need to get moving sooner than that if we are going to stay on schedule.  I spent Wednesday and Thursday sewing window screens by hand.  While we had screens for all the hatches, many of the frames were broken and they were problematic to use.  The wooden frames were bulky and they had to be completely removed in order to open and close the hatches, which left them taking up space in the salon whenever it rained or we left the boat.  We had a nifty screen for the master cabin that doubled as a sun shade.  We wanted more of those, but their $200 price tags put them out of our budget.  I decided to make screens that could be secured over the hatches with velcro and have a second layer of black fabric that rolls up like a tent flap, but can be unrolled when shade is desired.  I had sewed the shade portions while we were at home, but had not received the screen material in time to construct the rest.  Our sewing machine wasn't working, anyway, so I didn't gain much by making them at home.  Sewing the screens by hand is a slow process, but I finished a couple of them.  The one for the forward cabin was especially important, since that cabin is often occupied and the original screen was only marginally functional and often collapsed.  Scott took me out for dinner at the sports bar, which is called "We" for some reason.  This place is so overrun by Canadians that they were playing two different hockey games.  I was enjoying watching the Kings slaughter Winnipeg, but Scott made me leave after the 3rd quarter because the jazz band playing outside was driving him crazy.  I admit that jazz and hockey were a bad combination (or maybe just required more beer to appreciate.)

Scott arose before 10AM on Friday.  That was encouraging.  He started the process of installing the new chart plotter, but ran out of steam.  By 4:00, he was ready to head over to check on the generator.  Since appliance repair is the ostensible activity of the shop, we took the broken freezer with us.  I have no idea why we didn't try that before buying a new one, but I guess it didn't occur to either of us.  The generator was not ready.  It was taking longer than expected, although we could see that they had made progress.  The repairman said it would be ready on the following Tuesday.  We hooked the freezer to a battery and showed him what appeared to be wrong.  He agreed to take it apart and check all the electrical connections, so we left it with him.  We needed to buy some new bolts to reinstall the rail, so he directed us to the local "casa de tornillos" (house of screws.)  There seems to be at least one in every town and they are wondrous.  It took us a while to find it, but we did locate several hardware and building supply businesses in the same area.  We got the bolts we needed and checked out what was available in the local shops.  Then we wandered over to the plaza and had a beer in an upstairs cafe overlooking the park before walking back home.  I made pork with red Thai curry for dinner.

Saturday was Scott's birthday.  I had hoped we could spend the day sipping rum drinks beside the pool at the local beach club, but Scott elected to sleep late and spend most of the day playing computer games and surfing the internet.  We did manage to get out of the boat after if got dark and took a nice walk over the hill to Santa Cruz, where we ate beef fajitas in an unremarkable restaurant by the beach and listened to the music from a dance concert that was happening nearby.  On the way back, we stopped in a cafe near the marina and had some celebratory dessert.

I spent the entire weekend sewing window screens.  We now have a screen for one of the big side windows and I am working on the other one so that we can get some cross ventilation going when we aren't at a dock where we can run the giant fan.  Of course, to get airflow, we have to take down the sun screen.  It's a trade off.  Scott made a lot of progress with installing the new chart plotter on Sunday.  He spent a lot of time splicing together incompatible cables and figuring out how to translate the signal from one manufacturer to that of another so that the chart plotter would interface with the GPS and (as yet non-functional) autopilot.  The autopilot is a project for a future date.

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