Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boat Projects

A few pictures from the last two days of intensive boat project work.

Rani provides scale for our storm jib, which flies only as high as the first spreaders.
The dinghy was quite badly damaged around the bow where the tow line pulled through the plastic, putting a big hole in the bow where the eye was, another in the front of the gunwale, and a tear in the port gunwale aft of the bow.

Fortunately, Rani managed to buy some polypropylene rods from a company called Sabic in Coquitlam, B.C., while she was up north last month. We did not anticipate using them before we left for the Marquesas but " C'est la vie"!

Using a small soldering iron to fuse the broken bow eye plastic piece back in place.

Starting by melting a groove around the broken piece, which has been pushed into place.

Melting a polypropylene rod into the groove. The iron is a bit too small for the job and it was slow work.

The repaired bow. Note the eye has been moved up a few inches because the repaired section is too weak to hold it. The gunwale damage is too large to repair by welding as the plastic was lost during the accident. The tube through which the painter was led is visible and has been repaired and reinforced with plastic welding rod.

The gunwale aft of the bow had a tear, which has been repaired with welding rod.

The bow eye is now backed by some aluminum scrap we bought at a window manufacturer.

Filing the plate we will use to reinforce the bow.

Marking the plate for rivet holes.

Plate riveted in place. We will cover this with something soft to protect Ladybug from bashes.

Autopilot cantilever bracket made from PVC pipe and lined with a wood plug to back up the socket. The white and silver plate in the background will hold this pipe and was fitted to hold the autopilot at the right height and distance from the tiller. The duct tape is just in place until the glue dries. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A few pictures from Bonanza Beach

Here are a few pictures from our recent visit to Bonanza beach. The lovely moth landed on the lines that hold our solar panels. The lines are only about 1/8 of an inch in diameter.

Moth on the rigging

Rani has decided she needs some upper body toning and has decided to work the windlass to bring up the anchor more often.
Rani bringing up the anchor.

We were delighted to hear our friends Frank and Cheryl from Serendipity hail us on the VHF and we joined them at anchor off Bonanza beach.
Enjoying some wine on the beach with Frank and Cheryl of S/V Serendipity
Kurt and Nancy arrived a few days ago, after we checked into Marina Palmira, bringing with them some Polynesian cruising guides that Rani had ordered as well as additional spices and some presents of dried fruit and books. Kurt also gave us a lesson on celestial navigation including how to calibrate and use our plastic sextant. He also wrote up a guide for us on  how to take Meridian sites. We plan to follow his advice and take noon sites each day on passage, so we are prepared in case we lose our GPS and electronics in a lightning strike. It will also be fun to do things in the traditional way.

Day sailing with Nancy and Kurt

Kurt is clearly happy to be back on the water.
Rani's new lycra anti-jellyfish suit, sewn by Katty in La Paz.

Unfortunately, we had a small incident involving the propeller and our dinghy tow line. The engine and prop are fine but the force tore off  the front of our little plastic dinghy. I will try to plastic weld things back together and back this up with aluminum sheet.  We will replace the tow line with a floating one.

Dinghy towing eye from our Walker Bay.
We have revised our estimated departure date from La Paz, to the end of the first week in March. This will give us time to finish most of our projects including installing the autopilot, fixing the dinghy, repairing the jib, and painting the chain.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bonanza Beach, Boat Cushions, Blood, and Bird Shit

We are back in La Paz again after a rolly few days anchored off Bonanza Beach. We chose to spend our last few Sea of Cortez "island days" in Bonanza because our good friends on S/V Serendipity were resting there after a 3 day crossing from Puerto Vallarta.

This anchorage on the east side of Espiritu Santo island is, as we soon learned, open to refracting northerly swells. We anchored in close to the beach well inside a reef that guards the north east entrance. At all but high tide, the reef knocked down the worst of the swells, but a 15 knot northerly wind made our stay a bit rolly. Visually, this is a lovely anchorage, with two miles of sand and dunes framed by volcanic hills of red and black rock and a granite headland immediately to the north. We spent 3 days here walking on the beach and sharing pot luck dinners with Frank and Cheryl. We also made the first two boat cushion slip covers and with a few tweaks and some Velcro tabbed straps to hold things together they look quite decent. Pictures to follow.

Yesterday I had my second Mexican dental experience. Much better than the one last spring where a Guaymas dentist drilled out two old fillings, breaking a molar and putting in fillings that lasted less than two weeks. The broken molar that I had repaired in Canada had become infected below the gum line and could not be saved, so the very competent English speaking dentista (female dentist) extracted it. Unfortunately their compressor was not working well, so the drill that she used to cut the molar before removing it kept slowing and stopping and the whole debacle took more than two hours with much blood loss. We went out to see the carnaval parade after this but my heart was not in it and Rani kindly took me home early.

I woke up at three in the morning with the blood still trickling into my mouth to the telltale splat of bird shit arriving on our cabin roof and the enhanced bass thump of Mexican dance music from the malecon. From recent experience I know how hard bird poop is to remove if left for a few hours, so I went on deck and scared away the little night heron that was perched on our windex at the top of the mast. A few minutes later, Rani came on deck in a very bad mood - much like a small sleepy bear awakened during hibernation - as I scrubbed the poop off the dodger, sail cover, cabin hood, solar panels, and side decks. My explanation that I could not sleep anyway due to the bleeding and the booming carnaval music did not fly and she informed me that normal people do not stomp around at night cleaning bird shit by flashlight.

Today was better and I managed some porridge for breakfast. We worked on the boat cushion covers and prepared for our guests, Kurt and Nancy, who arrive tomorrow. We will put Ladybug in a marina for a week to entertain our guests and to do the final projects and provisioning before we leave for Polynesia.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trekking with Chris

As most of my friends will acknowledge, I am a pretty good hiker. Trekking with Chris, however, has put a whole new meaning to exploratory hikes and sometimes leave me wishing for the well trodden trails of the northwest forests where I used to roam with the Cowichan Outdoor Group.

In the Baja heat we venture into the desert, scramble up scree encrusted hills, hop rock to rock and dodge the prickly bushes and cacti in the steep arroyos where rain water once tumbled down the mountains. The anticipated three hours become six and we return with wearied limbs covered in spidery trails of dried blood. Chris rarely complains despite suffering more than his share of this abuse ( he rarely  pays attention to that old addage “look before you leap” ).

Dos Amigos on San Gabriel beach
Off on an adventure!

Making new friends on Bonanza Beach
Puffers can be cool too!

John with staff

Multitude of life under rocks
John lifted some rocks in the tide pools on the southern end of Bonanza Beach and we were amazed at the number of sea stars, cucumbers, worms and shells hiding in the cool shade and shallow water. Writhing masses of brittle stars reminded us of a brood of vipers. Speaking of vipers, John warned us about the poisonous jabs of the pretty cone shells. Having spent a few years in the Marshall Islands, he has seen his share of exotic shells and seems well informed of their deadly interaction with the naive beach comber.

Brittle Star hiding under the rocks

Shells living in the rock pools of Bonanza Beach

I should have warned our friend John of sv Time Piece before we invited him on a cross-island hike on Isla Espiritu Santo.The first leg of the trek from San Gabriel Bay to Bonanza Beach was an easy hike through a well traveled arroyo but the return leg was a detour directed by Chris.

Along the way, Chris invited John to follow him in his "Thelma and Louise" leap off a large dune. Unfortunately, I did not catch the action on my camera, so Chris repeated this twice for my benefit and had a prickly landing on the third attempt. John used his safety training skills to extract the cactus spines from his foot.

Let's follow the coyote trail

But, first, let's go up this dune and jump off the top!


Chris ran into this beastie at his third run down the dune :(
“ We can climb over that gray looking ridge and come down into an adjacent arroyo which should bring us back behind the bird colony”. It sounded easy enough but what we did not foresee was that there was another ridge beyond the first and traversing those hills would be hard work in the afternoon heat. In this instance we decided that following Chris was not the best idea, so John and I decided to mutiny and scramble down  instead of following him up the second ridge.

We think he ran up to beat us to the dinghies as he managed to disappear rather quickly from view. While hopping along the rock slides and crawling down crumbling sandstone scree, we amused ourselves by inventing stories of encounters with wild cats and near death escapes that we would later recount to our very own Captain Bligh.

"We just have to go over one more ridge , honest!"

Cardon Cactus in arroyo

Rani's cave

Boats beyond the frigate colony
 Finally our arroyo opened into the salty flats behind the mangrove sanctuary of the nesting frigate colony.

Dinghy transfer 
To his credit, Chris rowed out to Ladybug to fetch us all a can of cold beer when we emerged onto the beach, battered and bruised. And he towed John's dinghy from the beach into shallower water, probably to ease his conscience.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pictures from the Islands Near La Paz

Rani has promised to post an entry in the next few days. Until then, here are a few pics from recent trips to the islands north of La Paz.

Sally Lightfoot crab at Bonanza Beach.

View south along Bonanza Beach.
Goats rub their horns on certain trees. 

Free Spirit anchored off the mangrove lined lagoon at San Gabriel anchorage.

Ladybug arrives in Lobos anchorage.

Furling the jib slows things down and makes it easier to maneuver under sail in an anchorage.
Ladybug inspects the toys in the 'garage' of a mega-yacht.

Chris and John climbing near the Raza anchorage.

John Spicher and Chris resting after the climb. Rooster and Hen islands in the distance.

To balance the dinghy we now sit back to back on the main thwart.

Navy vessel approaches after dropping off an officer on Time Piece. We have been inspected twice in the last few weeks.

Masked men and guns - The fellow who is waving took down our vessel particulars and one of the masked men came on board with him. He was very interested in our boat and Rani invited him below - machine gun and all.

Chris inspects a large shell midden.

This cave was occupied many years ago and has its own shell midden.

Beautiful patterns of peeling bark.