Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Boat Repair in Baja California Sur

This is the season we decided to rectify our rudder problem we've been living with since a haulout in a San Diego boat yard in 2010. The boat was hauled out prior to our second trip down the Baja coast in the Fall of 2010. In addition to having our bottom paint done, a new cutless bearing installed and a new stainless steel propeller shaft fabricated, it was noted that there was a small fracture in the fiberglass on the port side of the blade. Rusty water was issuing forth from the fissure at a slow but steady pace. Since there was also a small amount of play in the rudder stock, the yard removed the rudder to allow it to dry and, at the same time, address the small movement.

After removing the rudder and allowing it to drain and dry in the yard, a thin bushing was fabricated and the rudder reinstalled. Returning to the yard prior to the launch, the yard manager asked if the, now mis-shapen, rudder looked like that when it was taken out. I replied that it didn't, but rather a symetrical foil shape. The response didn't elict a reply and the launching went on as scheduled.

Fortunately, there is a company in southern California (Finco in Santa Ana) that still has the jigs for several rudder designs (including the Cal 39) and will fabricate a new rudder when ordered. Three weeks after ordering the rudder I picked it up at the fabricators, loaded on the roof racks of the truck, where it stayed until we arrived in La Paz, when it was unloaded at the boat in the Singlar Marina. Fortunately, we enjoy the nearly 800 mile drive down the Baja peninsula; we loaded the truck nearly to the roof with all we needed for repairs and living aboard this season.

The three day drive to La Paz was inspiring, but uneventful and the truck and rudder arrived without incident. While out of the water, I sanded and painted the bottom, which included three coats of epoxy primer/barrier coat on the new rudder before applying the bottom paint. The rudder replacement work I contracted out to a local yacht maintenance group. Besides doing all around yacht cleaning and maintenance, one of the principles (Arturo) was incharge of the boat yard in Palmira for 12-years. He, his younger brother Sergeo and partner Enrique did a professional job of installation.

Concurrent with the rudder work, I occupied myself in the mid-80's temperatures and humidity sanding and painting the bottom. The bottom paint from last season's job in Puerto Escondido was good, but since the rudder needed painting anyway, we decided to do the entire bottom once again. We went with ablative paint from Comex (AF-30) and the finished job looked good. Now time will tell how well the paint holds up.

The launch, itself, went without a hitch. The old 'dolphin' (metal posts with a marker on top) have now all been replaced with floating red and green bouy markers, making navigating the very narrow channel to the marina much easier. The markers are much easier to spot and clearly indicate the edges of the shallow channel. Last year taking the boat in, the average water depth was around 8-feet and we touched the sandy bottom three times as we search for the 'deep' water. This time went without a problem.

The work we did in the yard took about a week. Hiring out the bottom sanding and painting would have shaved maybe a day or two off that schedule (and saved a lot of sweat, too!). One of the things we did do differently this year was take a hotel room to stay, rather than being on the boat. The room cost was around $38 USD a night, had cable TV (Mexico, Ontario, Canada and Seattle), WiFi, AC and a shower with hot water. While not the Ritz, it was clean and comfortable and provided us with a good place to clean up and sleep.

Overland Down the Baja Peninsula

No matter how many times I've made the trip down this beautiful, wild and largely uninhabited peninsula, I never tire of the trip. Each time there is something different and this year is no exception. The southern portion of the peninsula (Baja California Sur) received a larger than normal amount of precipitation this hurricane season. While most of the bridges across the normally dry arroyos held up well, there were a few failures due to the volume of run off from the Sierra de Gigante. The most striking effect is to the landscape itself. It has transformed from tropical desert to a cross between a tropical desert and a tropical jungle with cactus.

Our picture's will never capture the beauty and majesty of this wild landscape. Times of abundant rains make this an especially spectacular trip. The development at Juncalito, just north of Puerto Escondido

could have passed for one of the tropical villages on a Carribean Island, rather than a small village in the desert along the Sea of Cortez.

Already acknowledging the photo's will not do the scenery justice, I'll end with a few more shots in a feeble attempt to capture the beauty.