Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Our Neophyte Sailor

During the past year or so, there have been life's interruptions to our cruising plans. We've been fortunate because all of these interruptions have been enriching; the wedding of our youngest daughter followed shortly thereafter by the birth of our first grandchild to our oldest daughter. All have been causes for celebration. This post, we'll take some time to share photos of the newest neophyte sailor and dote, as grandparents are entitled. Archer arrived early afternoon of March 20, the first day of Spring, on a cool overcast day in San Francisco.

He's been the joy of the entire family, but the grandma's and great-grandma are over the moon for Archer. Here he is with his great-grandmother, Pat.

Of course there's also Grandma Cheryl and Grandma Kathie who never seem to get enough time with their favorite grandson.

The truth of the matter, his parents, aunts and uncles, all of us, think he's pretty damn cute!

Archer is pretty non-plussed by it all. While he has taken his first hike in the woods around Willits, his sailing adventures will be starting before you know it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Care and Feeding of a Non-appreciating Asset

This season will be more illustrative than most when it comes to owning a boat. As the old saw goes: "Break Out Another Thousand"! As is widely recognized, boats are not appreciating assets (as opposed to houses, that is until the housing bust in 2009). Still, it is important to maintain a boat for safety's sake, if for no other reason.

This year we will be replacing our deformed, mis-shapened rudder (The
Foss Company, Newport Beach, CA). Ever since the "rudder repair" we had at the Driscoll yard in San Diego, we've been living with a warped, asymetrical, non-foil shaped appendage in lieu of a proper rudder. Due to both safety and performance considerations, we will be hauling a new rudder south with us to make the replacement. We will also be bringing enough Sunbrella , zippers, Stratglass and Common Sense twist-lock fasteners (all from Sailrite) to have all our canvas replaced. We've had our dodger, bimini and mainsail cover resewn twice since having the boat in Mexico. The canvas wasn't new when we purchased the boat, so it's about time to replace it. Buying the materials here, insures that we get the color of our choice (Sunbrella color selection in Baja can be limited) and takes the trouble out of looking for hardware. We're also providing the Tenara heavy duty thread so this set of covers will wear-out before needing to be restitched.

There are a couple of canvas shops in La Paz with experience fabricating boat covers. We're hoping to be able to use the services of either Danny at Pacific Threads or Doug at Snug Harbor Sails. Both do very good work and will be able to do the fitting on the boat. There is also a modest savings in labor charges by having the work done in Mexico.

In addition to doing the two major upgrades (the rudder and new canvas) we'll also be bringing bottom paint, two-part epoxy gelcoat sealer, replacement batteries for the Nicro solar vents, a 3dB VHF replacement antenna, an ICOM hand-held VHF antenna replacement, new sail ties, mast boot-tape, fiberglass cleaner, wax, Hypalon repair kit and BBQ replacement parts. Since the boat has been out of the water for some time and the new rudder will require bottom paint, we'll be doing the entire boat. Having the boat on the hard also provides a time when cleaning and waxing the hull can be done relatively easily.

We're believers in lists. These days, most things we might need can be found in Mexico. Some of them easily, others not so much. Taking those items we know we'll need from home, saves an enormous amount of "searching" time to find those same things in Baja. This is the reason that for the past several months, we've been compiling lists of things we need to take to the boat and things that have to be done. As we accumulate the items on our lists, they get checked off and are stored in the boat 'pile' in the garage. When it is time to depart, hopefully we will have gone over the lists to confirm that we have all we had planned to bring The plan is to order the rudder replacement a couple of weeks prior to our departure in November; pick the crated rudder up in Santa Anna, lash it to the roof rack on our truck so we can drive it to the boat. With the fabrication paperwork in hand, along with our TIP (Temporary Import Permit) for our boat, we don't anticipate any problems with Customs (Aduana) in Mexico. We'll see how it goes this time around and will be updating as we get ready to head south.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In Memory of Jo Bird and Support of Billy

All who knew Jo Bird will mourn her passing. She carried the light and laughter of life and infected all around her with the joy. She will be missed by all who had the good fortune to make her acquintance, but none more than Billy, her partner in life and love of his life. The cruising community in La Paz has lost a beloved member of their own. We hope all who knew Jo carry on in her memory by bringing the same joy to life that she so freely shared with everyone she met. Our support goes out to Billy. Hang in there kaikunane and be strong. Carry Jo's aloha forward in your life.

He pua laha'ole aloha, Jo.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What To Do When You Must Leave Your Boat Unattended

This summer, Citla spent out of the water at the Singular yard in La Paz,
Baja California Sur. It provides a less expensive alternative to leaving the boat in the water during hurricane season, while, at the same time, having the boat ready for a new rudder installation when we return. The monthly storage charge is slightly less in the yard than what is charged in the marina's and there's no routine bottom cleaning and zinc replacements needed while the boat is out of the water.

When you're not cruising full time, or you need to take a sabbatical from cruising to attend to emergencies, the question of how best to leave your boat becomes a concern. Since we've switched to cruising on a part time basis in 2010, we've had to face this question twice during the past two seasons in Mexico. There have been cruisers that have successfully left their boats either at anchor or on a mooring for an extended period without problems. Unfortunately, there are also instances where boats have been lost or vandalized following this practice. While there's no guarantee to insure that your boat will be absolutely safe when left unattended for weeks to months, there are practical actions you can take to minimize your risks.

I'm an admitted conservative when it comes to leaving the boat unattended. While we have friends who have left their boats for days
unattended at anchor, I cannot bring myself to do this. Even in a populated anchorage, as can be found in La Paz or La Cruz, my worry meter rises when the boat is out of sight for more than a couple of hours. Even if over the years, I've only experienced dragging anchor a half a dozen times (one due to 40-knot winds, where more scope solved the problem, and the other times due to weed fouling the anchor over a period of days).

We have no problem leaving the boat unattended for weeks to months in most marinas and boat-yards. For extended absences, we take all the loose gear off of the decks and store it below, locked away in either the
salon or lazerettes. This includes the horse-shoe bouy with strobe light; the lunch hook on the stern pushput; the man-overboard pole; the outboard; the life-sling; and the barbeque. When leaving the boat over the summer, we also take down all the canvas and sails, the halyards, the vang, the main sheet, and the boom (to help reduce windage). The anchor locker, lazerette covers and wash-boards are all locked to discourage petty theft. The propane is shut off and all batteries are disconnected (one or more would be left connected should the boat be left in the water to insure operation of the bilge pump).

If the boat is left in the water, a responsible friend should be asked to
check the boat on a regular basis. Depending on your relationship, this could be done without charge. When it comes to maintenance (washing the decks, cleaning the bottom, replacing zincs), however, you should expect to fairly compensate someone to perform these chores. Most all marinas and many anchorages have local workers who perform these services as their business. Ask fellow cruisers and locals for recommendations and then help the local economy by hiring one or more of these marine service providers. You'll find if you spend any time at all in a particular locale, the best service providers will be well known and easily contacted.