and Playing (?) in Ensenada
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Nov. 19, 2007: We're still here :( Goyo arrived early and removed the blue tape. As I feared, the blue tape pulled the beige paint from the window trim, making them look lousy. If it's not one thing, it's another! This morning we tackled some outstanding projects -- like finishing the dinghy bridle and securing the dinghy and Jim spent quality time on the telephone with the State of California regarding Starfish Marine and the company van. I'll be nice and just say that California is a real piece of work! After lunch we rode with Gael Force to the port captain's office, and were once again greeted with a locked and dark office. Guess that means we're here for another night. We went to the marina office when we returned and the office manager, Gerry, told us that the port captain's office is open. When asked how we get in, we were told we needed to go in the back door. Now how on earth would we have known that?! Gerry made a phone call to confirm that someone was there who could check us out, but he also told us that there would be a $40 fee to do so on a holiday. So let's see...$40 to check out now and have no where to go, or $55 to spend the night, giving us more time to work on projects and we'll check out for free tomorrow. We paid the $55 and moved the boat into the empty slip next to us, which gave us access to the starboard side. Jim attached the flopper stopper brackets while I wiped things down. On the good side of things, tonight is Monday and we'll watch Monday Night Football at La Palapaloca. I finished reading "Four Blind Mice" by James Patterson...a very good read!
Nov. 18, 2007: I was on the 0815 bus to Tijuana; the pedestrian wait line was only 45 min. I arrived West Marine around 1115 and picked up the supplies that Jim had requested. Then I walked to the marina and picked up our mail. Before I headed back to the trolley, I stopped at the Galley Restaurant and had a delicious blue cheese burger with fries. It's hard enough finding hamburgers down here -- don't even attempt to look for the blue cheese! I returned to the boat at 1600, only to find it looking like a bomb went off. My thought had been that Jim would secure everything and have us ready to head out tomorrow. Jim's idea was to clean out the garage and forward head. And that was probably a good thing to do, as it made space for other items that need to be stored. He also installed a new battery that runs the radios and the new AIS receiver (cool technology that tells us who that big boat is and where it's going). Additionally, he donned his good port captain clothes and went to the port captain's office to check us out of Ensenada. Unfortunately he was greeted with a "Cerrado" (closed) sign, despite the fact that the published hours indicate the office is open on Sunday. However, this is a Mexican holiday weekend. So, once again, now what do we do? The port captain had specifically told us we needed to check out with him before we left. Most likely their office will be closed tomorrow as well. Our plan, as of 2000, is to leave here, fuel up and grab a slip closer to downtown, in a marina that isn't as expensive as here. We will visit the port captain's office with the hope that it is open, but we're beginning to think we'll be another day here. It is so easy to make excuses why one can't leave, yet we've now had 3 valid reasons. Untying the lines and putting the boat in reverse can be a very difficult task! Tuxedo, a cat on E dock visited us in the middle of the night. We heard him on the cabin top; DC was a bit agitated!
Nov. 17, 2007: Goyo arrived early once again. We have been extremely pleased with his work. Today was to be Mañana's unveiling, however, upon inspection of his work, he determined that Baja Naval workers had put the leftover primer paint in a can labeled "semi-gloss" (which would explain why we had no primer leftover compared to finish paint). Thus, the first coat of "finish" paint was actually primer. Not trusting the paint, yesterday he switched cans for the second finish coat and it looked good. However, having only one "real" finish coat did not cover the primer, so we authorized Goyo to put another finish coat on today. So that mistake on Baja Naval's part cost us an additional several hundred dollars and a one-day delay. We can remove the plastic tomorrow; Goyo will return on Monday to remove the tape. Jim installed the dinghy wheels and in the process of inflating the dinghy, the nozzle broke. The dinghy was originally shipped with 2 pumps, both of which had defective hoses and one had a defective nozzle. Although we notified AMI of the problem, they never sent us a replacement and it got lost in the shuffle of projects. Jim bought a new pump at West Marine for its hose and attached the one good nozzle that came from AMI. That was what broke today. So, now what to do? For the time being, we borrowed one from Lance (StarPlath) next to us. Hopefully we can find one in Cabo or further south (ours has a particular nozzle). Stephanie (StarPlath) is a quilter and she gave me 4 lovely pieces of an autumn leaves Hoffman Fabric. I have admired this fabric in the catalogs and previously cut out a picture of a pattern that I'd like to make. With luck, maybe I will be able to find a fabric store someplace that sells decent fabrics. Gael Force returned from San Diego with our food, boat parts and wine. Unfortunately they were not able to pick up our mail, so it looks like I'll be on the morning bus to the border. Lucky for me...I've been craving a good cheeseburger and fries lately...I'll make sure I have one before I return to Ensenada!! Hmmm...I wonder if I can get them to put up 4 or 5 to go?!
Nov. 16, 2007: Goyo was here bright and early and put the final coat of paint on the cabin. Jim G. arrived at 0945 and chauffered me to the grocery store for last minute groceries and then to Costco for more kitty litter. He then switched passengers and drove Jim to Alejandro's. The spreader bar was ready and beautifully done. While he was out I headed to the laundromat and did the laundry. The helm area is now basically put together and looks nice. Jim's had a few challenges in getting new software to talk with the existing but I think we'll be okay. At 1800 Jim G. returned. Our thought was to have a nice last dinner together at Baja Mama's, a restaurant that had been recommended. Unfortunately none of us could remember the exact location of the restaurant, other than it was out by la bufadora, so an adventure awaited us! The road was pitch black, illuminated only by the occasional house. We ended up out at la bufadora, but hadn't seen the restaurant. So we asked for directions and were told to take a left after the fire station. We almost drove past the fire station and the left turn was a dirt road and there were no signs promoting Baja Mama's. We took it anyway and bounced along for a mile or two, at which point the road became paved. There were still no signs and we were pretty sure we weren't where we should be when we came to a guard shack. Jim G. asked directions and was told that Baja Mama's was up ahead, where the lights were. So we continued on, still not seeing a road or driveway to the restaurant. We came to a second guard shack and the guard told us we'd passed it. We turned around and the next thing we knew was that the guard had raised a gate and was motioning us to turn onto a rutted dirt track. We were laughing pretty hard at this point, wondering where the heck we were going and hoping that (1) the restaurant was open and (2) the food was as good as claimed! About 8 cars were parked in front of the house with the lights. All the cars had California license plates; this was definitely an ex-pat community. The sign on the door said "welcome" so we walked in at 1915. We were seated at a table, our order was taken, a little dog ran from table to table looking for handouts...and then the live entertainment arrived. An older lady carrying an old wash tub string bass decorated for Christmas set up next to the piano, where an older gentleman took his place. They proceeded to play songs everyone could sing along with -- Home on the Range, My Sweet Adeline, Don't Take my Sunshine Away...By now the 3 of us were just roaring with laughter. This place was an absolute hoot!! Dinner arrived and it was, indeed, as good as had been claimed. The grand finale of the evening came when an older lady approached our table and greeted us like we were old friends. Jim G. asked who she was and she introduced herself as "THE Baja Mama". She was full of personality...too bad she wasn't full of teeth!! Well, this adventure was great fun. We wished we had come earlier so we could have watched the sunset. Baja Mama's is situated on the beach and I'm sure it has a beautiful view to the west. So if you find yourself in Ensenada, make a point of looking up this restaurant. You won't be disappointed!
Nov. 15, 2007: On this morning's net was news that one of the helicopters viewing the Baja 1000 crashed just outside of Ensenada on Monday, injuring 2 and killing 2. The oddity of this news is that yesterday, several vehicles each containing several armed men swarmed the morgue, stealing the 2 bodies. A police chase ensued and 2 officers were killed. Eventually one body was tossed out along the side of the road. Police officials theorize that the crash involved a major drug lord. So how's that for excitement? Goyo arrived at 0745 this morning and once again, got right down to business. He was eventually joined by another worker. I took advantage of the sun and did two loads of laundry, one of which was 2 area rugs. The rugs were laid out on the flybridge to dry. The Jims returned to Alejandro's in late morning; unfortunately Alejandro had forgotten about making the davit spreader bar, but indicated that he'll have it ready tomorrow. Our boat neighbor, John, stopped by with a cooler full of food that he had purchased but not eaten -- more lettuce, margarine and a nice fat pork chop, which I immediately cut up and cooked. It will make a great addition to a stir fry next week. Jim spent the majority of the day installing/hooking up systems in the helm area. The boat looks like a bomb exploded, but I've come to realize that it always looks this way right before we head out. As the saying goes, "this, too, shall pass."
Nov. 14, 2007: One painter arrived at 0800 and got busy prepping the cabin. The Jims went to Alejandro's but he wasn't there and he had not written up a receipt for our flopper-stopper rigs, so Jim will have to return tomorrow. They also stopped at a small shop that sells stainless steel screws. Unfortunately Jim remembered the screw size incorrectly, so he and I walked back there before lunch to exchange them. It felt good not to be couped up in the boat, which has been totally sealed. In mid-afternoon Jim installed the flopper-stopper brackets and pole on the port side. We will need to turn the boat around for him to access the starboard side. By the end of the day. Goyo had applied a coat of split coat paint using brush only. We wish we could master his technique, but he's been painting boats for 13 years, so he's had lots of time to gain the experience. He admitted that our boat was a tough one to work on and that his back hurt; it's comforting to know that even the youngster is having difficulties!
Nov. 13, 2007: Helicopters hovered overhead at 0600 for the start of the Baja 1000 -- no sleeping in this morning! I was invited to join the ladies for a shopping trip at 0830. I loaded up my shopping cart with wine and beer, only to be reminded that one cannot buy liquor in Mexico before 1000. My provisioning is now 99% complete, with the exception of the boxed wine that we've been drinking and the last minute deli, fruit and tortillas that I will buy on Sat. Our trip back to the marina was quite an adventure because many of the side streets and a few of the main drags were closed off for the continuation of the Baja 1000 (the larger trucks left at 1100). So it took a couple of tries before we were able to talk the policia into letting us travel on a closed street back to the marina. I don't think he really wanted to deal with 4 whiney women who had groceries melting in the trunk! Two workers showed up to the boat, did a little sanding and then wrapped the exterior of the boat in 3' high plastic. At this pace, I'm not sure how they are going to get 3 coats of paint done by Saturday, but miracles have been known to happen! Jim went downtown after lunch on chores of his own, returning with mixed results. While he was out, I dug out my sewing machine and hemmed 2 pairs of pants and repaired the hole in the bimini. My Bernina wasn't happy sewing through multiple layers of Sunbrella! I think it (and its owner) is suffering withdrawal from quilting!! We re-installed the bimini when I finished and we stowed the window screens as we do not travel with the screens on. Jim G. stopped by bearing gifts from Alejandro's: namely, a pair of new flopper-stopper brackets, mounts and pole (10' stainless). Alejandro was apparently apologetic that they weren't perfect, but in our eyes they are beautiful and the price was right! The three of us went to La Guadalajara for dinner. Gael Force is going to San Diego tomorrow, so we dropped our wish list off with them.
Nov. 12, 2007: Several items got crossed off the list...even items that weren't on the list! Noe and his crew stopped by around 0900 and discussed what we wanted. He told Jim he'd be by in the afternoon with an estimate. I headed downtown looking for a new pair of sandals and some brownie mixes. My heels are beginning to get very painful...I paid a fortune for the Sperry's I'm wearing, but they aren't holding up. The malecon and gringo gulch were hopping with Baja 1000 activities. Streets were closed off, food vendors on site, music set up, etc. Helicopters flew over head; at one point 10 helicopters flew in formation over the marina and 2 landed in the adjacent lot. Jim tore the aft head toilet apart, replacing the seals and ball. He was interrupted several times, so that project took longer than it should have. In the late afternoon he replaced the vacuum pump, rebuilt the fresh water pump and installed a shut off valve for the fresh water in the engine room. We were disappointed that Noe had not stopped by, and I was mentally gearing up to begin sanding in the morning. But at 1745, Noe stopped by with his estimate. We felt it was extremely reasonable and told him we'll see him tomorrow. We watched the Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49s at La Palapaloca (24 - 0). The place was mobbed with the Baja 1000 crowd. It seems to be finally sinking in that we're leaving here on Sunday; we were discussing the route. One part of Jim would like to set a course from Ensenada to Tenacatita. We've been told that after a couple of days you get into a routine but I just don't know if I'd be bouncing off the walls. So the other part of us is saying that on Sunday we'll fuel up and then anchor out either at Isla Todos Santos or south of the Bufadora, both just outside Ensenada.
Nov. 11, 2007: The sun was out when we woke up so I wasted no time in heading to the laundry area to wash 3 of the area rugs. I hung them over the rails to dry in the sun. Jim reworked the air conditioner ducting, completing that project. He then cut and installed two new shelves for the hanging locker. This project took him most of the afternoon because each shelf had to be cut to go around the frames and had to be cut to allow for wiring bundles and the air conditioner ducting. I made a batch of brownies, cut them into individual servings and froze them for our upcoming trip south. Amazingly all the brownies made it into the freezer! When we did this trip the last time, we used the brownies as "rewards" at the end of a long or uncomfortable passage. After lunch I headed off for a few grocery items. I decided to walk to the big Gigante, which is about 1 mile away from here. I wanted to see if I could find canned cream corn or Shout stain remover (yes to both items). Unfortunately the big Gigante did not sell roasted chicken or our boxed wine, so my next stop was to Calimex. I bought the chicken, but they didn't have the wine either. My final stop was the small Gigante and again, there was no joy in the wine department. Late in the afternoon, the clouds moved in and it actually rained! Not just a few sprinkles, but real, honest-to-goodness rain that continued on into the evening! I can't remember when it rained last! A rally for the Baja 1000 race was held at the plaza in the afternoon and we could hear the base boom-boom almost all day.
Nov. 10, 2007: It's official! The boat's for sale (although Jim disagrees with me)! Jim was too sore to sand today so I decided I'd give it a go. Well, I'm just not as disciplined when it comes to nit picky work, and although I know and understand that the cabin sides need to be nice and smooth, I just don't have the patience or stamina to make it happen. After lunch I dug the sander out thinking that would make things a bit easier and certainly would be quicker than hand sanding. Our sander has a "collector" on the end of it, which I was holding on to to direct where I was sanding, and several times I managed to pull the dang thing off, depositing fine white paint dust all over me. Around 1400 Noe stopped by. He was the person the office had recommended for the sanding/painting. Noe and I walked to H dock to check out a 1934 sailboat he had painted (Jim had run errands with Jim G). I was impressed with his work so we returned to Mañana, and I told him what I wanted and the deadline we are on. He said he will return on Monday with his painter and give us an estimate. Jim didn't spend the day goofing off...he spent hours diagnosing why neither our speed log nor wind instrument worked. When Jim G. stopped by, he was put to work helping Jim analyze why things didn't work. Well, duh! Jim eventually realized that he had plugged the speed log into the wind instrument and vice versa! Once he figured that out, the numbers the instruments were recording looked much better...with the exception that now the water temperature gage was reading 130 degrees...hmmm...! In mid afternoon I declared that I was leaving for someplace clean -- I was up to my eyeballs in sand and Jim had the interior in a turmoil. Instead, I headed off to do the laundry, and while it was washing, I deposited myself in the shower. I was appalled when I realized that the paint dust had created a paste on my face. Yuk!! I returned to the boat a few hours later (had to wait for the dryers). Jim G. arrived with appetizers, after which we walked downtown in search of a restaurant that wasn't mobbed. The Baja 1000 will take place on Tuesday. This is an offroad race from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas. Judging from the number of teams already in town, it's a popular event. If I remember correctly, the motorcycles depart at 0630; the trucks leave at 1130. The winner will arrive Cabo 22 hours later.
Nov. 9, 2007: Finally! The cabin was prepped and wiped down, the paint was shaken; we had no excuse for putting the painting off another day! I worked the base molding and the small areas around the windows while Jim followed behind me rolling and tipping the cabin sides. It took about 3 hours and both of us found muscles we hadn't used in a long time. This painting ain't for sissies! At one point I was beginning to rethink going back to the yard and having it done! The cabin looks much better, even though it's only had one coat of paint. We will continue this sanding, wiping and painting for the next few days. We're only doing the cabin sides; not the decks, doors, flybridge or eyebrow. Late in the afternoon we visited the office and paid for another week. But this is IT! This place costs way too many pesos to stay here long and I'm beginning to feel that if we don't get out of here soon, I'm not going. We requested a referral for someone who can sand/paint. We're getting too old for this much fun. I made home made corn chowder for dinner and we were in bed early. Jim had to put the 2nd quilt on the bed...it was 59 in the aft cabin. I'm really beginning to wonder how the heck I'm going to survive returning to the NW when I'm whining about winter in Mexico!
Nov. 8, 2007: Well today was a total mess-up of the comical kind! At 0900 Jim began stirring the paint and realized that it would take him at least an hour to properly stir it (our paint stirrer broke and we never replaced it). About that time, the other Jim stopped by and suggested that Jim bring the gallon of paint to Home Depot and get them to shake it for a few pesos. Jim G had other errands to run, too. So the guys took off after morning coffee and went straight to Home Depot. Somehow the can of paint got jostled up against the back hatch of the SUV so when Jim opened the hatch, the can rolled out and went SPLAT! onto the parking lot. Naturally, the lid popped off and paint went everywhere. So the Jims, along with Home Depot workers, mopped up the paint as best they could and when done, there was virtually no paint left in the can, and as we all know, Home Depot does not sell boat paint. From there they went to Burger King for lunch. Jim G. ordered lunch for the guys at Alejandro's shop as well. When they got to Alejandro's, only 2 employees were there -- Alejandro and the other workers were at Baja Naval working on Jim's boat! So the Jims headed to Baja Naval. Jim G. went to his boat to tell Alejandro that he had lunch for everyone, only to learn that Alejandro and crew had left for the shop 10 min. earlier. So back to Alejandro's go the Jims! The lunch was well received and they were able to conduct their stainless business then! However, the issue of paint for the boat was still outstanding. They went to one chandlery, which didn't carry the paint brand we were using, but it did carry something else. Neither Jim was familiar with the brand, so they returned to Jim's boat, logged on the internet and got information that determined that the paint would work. Then they returned to the chandlery, bought the paint, had it shaken and returned to Mañana 4 1/2 hours later! In the meantime, while they were out, I spent quality time putting items back in the hanging locker, wiping brown dirt deposited from the Santa Ana's as I did so. We had fallen in love with a stained glass lamp and Jim asked me to go downtown and buy it; he was afraid that someone on the Fubar might buy it before we did. The lamp has a weighted pewter base, so I opted not to carry it back to the boat. The Jims drove downtown to get it when they returned. It looks beautiful up on our "dash board" (for lack of correct technical term). The lamp has dragon flies all over it. Simply gorgeous!
More Green Cooties
Nov. 7, 2007: Brrr! I dug the electric heater out this morning -- it was only 61 inside the boat! After breakfast we began sanding the green cooties and by lunch time, the cabin was totally sanded. It took us a couple of hours to mask the windows and by the time we were finished, it was too late to apply primer. Unfortunately the fog never burned off and the dampness was already setting in. Jim (Ocean Dance) stopped by to say hi to the cats, and he offered to give my Jim a hand in mounting the name boards. We wanted to get them off the deck before something dropped on top of them. Folks with the Fubar crowd began arriving. The Fubar is the motoryacht equivalent of the Baja Haha, but is more upscale. I ran into two ladies who were wandering around the marina courtyard. They followed me into the ladies room; I guess they didn't know where they were supposed to go. One of them asked me if I was headed south with the Fubar crowd. I could have said any number of snide remarks, but I was nice and told them that we were going on our own. Her response to that was, "oh! you must be brave!" Ha! If she only knew! We've come to the conclusion that we aren't going to make it out of here on Sunday. It's going to take us several days to prime, sand and paint, not to mention all the other smaller projects that will most likely take hours to do. Besides, Jim says he doesn't want to disappoint me -- the Seahawks are playing Monday Night Football!
Nov. 6, 2007: For whatever reason, this quiet marina has been experiencing quite a bit of surge over the last 2 days, and last night we listened to the fenders groan as they compressed under Mañana's weight against them. We started work bright and early -- the boat cabin had a case of the green cooties by the time we took our morning coffee break at 1030. While the green cooties were drying, Jim completed the air conditioner installation. He has noticed that the forward bilge pump has continued to cycle and when working in the hanging locker, discovered the cause. He believes the port chine plank was loosened by the travel lift. Unfortunately this is something that can only be fixed when we're out of the water, which we have no plans of doing any time soon. And unfortunately this plank is at the bottom of our hanging locker (closet). We have a rubber grid material on the floor so items won't get (too) wet. We'll keep an eye on it and deal with it. I wasn't happy with the way he rigged the ducting for the air conditioner, so he will redo it, hopefully tomorrow. In the meantime, the contents of the hanging locker are still in a pile on the aft cabin floor. I did a major food run with Linda and Margaret. I've never really gotten the hang of provisioning for a month. It's not like we will be able to fix a complete meal every night at 1800. It may be too bumpy to turn on the stove, or perhaps we're having a long day and a microwaveable meal will be more appropriate. Just too many unknowns!
Nov. 5, 2007: Not an overly productive day because we kept having visitors who wanted to pick Jim's brain. However, the davits are now complete. Jim used the bridle from the old davits and they worked, although there is room for improvement. It's nice to have that major project basically finished. I've been busy sanding the cabin sides and today while I was out walking, Jim removed the old phone outlet (it leaked) and got brave and sanded down a spot in the cabin side that tapped "suspicious". What he discovered was the fiberglass covering the butt seam of 2 planks of wood had not bonded properly; thus when you tapped it, it sounded hollow, or like rot. But no rot was found! So he applied new fiberglass and we'll hold off painting that area for the time being. I revarnished the helm panel; it is quickly becoming the helm panel from hell. I sanded the drip smooth, but somehow I didn't get an even coat of varnish on the wood. So I'll try again tomorrow, and if I screw up again, I'm going to toss the damn thing overboard!! Jim sold 1 of his 4 diving tanks -- not enough room in the lazarette now that the new davit system is in place. Went to La Bahia for Monday Night Football. The game was horrible (Baltimore 7, Pittsburgh 38), the margaritas were so-so, but the food was good! We left at half-time...we can drink for free on the boat!
Nov. 4, 2007: Foggy and cold this morning (63 degrees inside). I put what I hoped was the last coat of varnish on the helm panel, only to discover that I had a major drip on the front. Boo hiss! Afterwards I hosed down the dinghy while Jim continued hooking up the wiring to the davits. Other projects included filling the water jugs, washing down the deck chairs and table and installing the transome steps. At 1330 Jim & Diane stopped by the boat and we went to the potluck together. Not a big crowd, but good food nonetheless, and as always, lots of terrific stories and friendship. The chipotle raspberry sauce was a huge hit. I'm glad I bought it! Jim came back with (surprise!) a couple of books! We are in count down mode -- 7 days to go. No stress here! We'll have a chance to relax soon enough, but not this week!
Nov. 3, 2007: It was announced during the morning net that a happy hour/swap meet will take place tomorrow here at Cruiseport. We remembered that we had our charcoal water filter on board so we put about 20" of water in the tank (it always feels good to have ample water in the tank). With luck that will hold us until we leave next week. In mid-morning we walked to Baja Naval, with plans to retrieve our dinghy. Oliver indicated that three other boats would be either launched or hauled and most likely our dinghy would be launched (via the huge travel lift) on Monday. That was okay with us. We returned to the boat and immediately began working on boat projects -- me, continuing to sand the cabin, and Jim, wiring the winch motor. At 1350 Jim received a phone call from Oliver saying that the yard had launched the dinghy and could we come right away to get it, as the yard was closing at 1400. We stopped what we were doing and didn't even bother to change out of our grubby clothes. We arrived Baja Naval ten minutes later, and Oliver escorted us into the marina (we had turned in our key). BMW (the "beemer") was a little low on air and a little stubborn to start, but within a few minutes we were on our way back to Cruiseport. We put it in the empty slip next to us for the time being (or until the office management tells us to move it). As if two trips to town weren't enough, I headed to the grocery store at 1530 for something to bring to tomorrow's happy hour. I think this will be a good opportunity to sample that chipotle raspberry sauce that I bought at Costco last month, so I bought some cream cheese and crackers. Down here, your cracker selection is the Mexican equivalent of either Ritz or Saltines (and your deli selection is jamon, jamon, or jamon [ham, ham or ham])!
Nov. 2, 2007: El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This holiday is highly celebrated in Mexico with the emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased. Revelers of the Day of the Dead celebrate the continuation of life believing not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life. Stores and bakeries sell "pan muertos". One story I read indicated that families erect an alter in their home with pictures of and articles belonging to the deceased. The deceased's favorite food is provided. Marigolds, the flower of renewal, are placed on the alter. Flower petals are then sprinkled along the walkway to the front door, welcoming the deceased's soul to the house. Jim returned at 1445, tired but happy to finally be home! At 1700, Jim and Diane (Ocean Dance) stopped by to see the cats and then we went to Casamar for dinner (highly over-rated). A couple hours later found us bidding good night to one another. Diane was suffering jet lag and Jim was yawning as well.
My Sweet Jerry
Nov. 1, 2007: Received a phone call from Jim saying that the check we were waiting for was sent to Seattle instead of Chula Vista, so he will be up there another day, this time bunking with Ron. I kept myself busy sanding the cabin and did another load of laundry. I finally(!) have an empty laundry basket. At 1800 I accompanied Gerald to La Vendimia. The people we know are dwindling, as folks begin to head south. The boat is now down to 3" of water in the tank.
Oct. 31, 2007: Happy Halloween! Jim headed to San Diego with Gerald at 0800. I didn't waste any time in varnishing. While the varnish was drying, I rode to WalMart with Rosalie and Ron ( Porque No). I walked the aisles looking for items that were on the provisioning list, but quickly realized that WalMart's prices are no lower than those at Super Gigante, and I didn't feel like carrying a heavy bag on the micro. So I bought only a couple of items and returned to the boat. I should have started to sand the port side, but decided to tackle another load of laundry instead. Unfortunately both machines were busy, so I decided to wait rather than return to the boat (the laundromat is on the opposite side of the marina). When I finally got back to the boat, it was almost 1600 and it was very chilly out. So much for sanding today! Instead, I straightened and wiped down the interior. The boat is ready for another bath, both inside and out. And just what we don't need...Santa Ana's are predicted for this weekend. Gerald stopped by at 2000 and dropped off a couple of items that Jim had bought, but didn't drop Jim off! The store where we get our mail was closed, so Jim spent the night with John & Liz.
Oct. 30, 2007: A cold wind picked up mid morning and continued the rest of the day...brr! After an abbreviated morning walk, I returned to the boat and varnished the name boards. Unfortunately it was too windy so I will sand them and give another coat tomorrow. Then I sanded the paint around the forward windows, beginning the prep work for painting the cabin (hopefully) this weekend. After lunch I headed out to the grocery store with my backpack. It's time to start provisioning. While we like Cruiseport, it is probably an extra 1/2 mile away from the downtown core. Jim puttered around the boat but didn't make much progress with any of the projects. At 1545 we headed to Marina Ensenada to visit briefly with Ron and Cheryl (Lazy Days), who arrived this morning. They are headed south in the morning. Then at 1645 Jim (Ocean Dance), Jim and I drove to Punto Morro for dinner. We joined 5 other couples for a sunset dinner and had a wonderful time. Ocean Dance and Dream Catcher are headed north; Gael Force and Mañana will head south in 2 weeks; Inconceiveable, Lions Paw and Gus may head south next year. So this dinner was a true celebration of friendship -- most likely, we will never see one another again once we leave Ensenada, but that is the life of cruisers.
Oct. 29, 2007: The time change has thrown us off schedule, so we were wide awake at 0600. By 0700 I had had my coffee and breakfast and was off to the laundromat here at the marina with 2 loads of laundry. No sense in bringing more than that as they have only 2 machines for the entire marina. Go figure! When I returned to the boat at 0915, Jim was hard at work hooking up the plumbing for the air conditioner. Rosa stopped by at noon and gave me another very short haircut on the dock. She's a sweet lady. She is going to write up the instructions in Spanish on how to cut my hair. That way I can just hand any hairdresser the paper and supposedly get what I want. It sounds good in theory! By 1500 Jim had the air conditioner 95% complete and I had touched up the paint in several places on the bulwarks and readied the name boards for varnishing tomorrow. It's amazing (and sad) how much the blue paint has faded in 3 months. We had dinner at La Palapa Loca tonight and watched Monday Night Football. Definitely a good game between Denver and Green Bay.
Oct. 28, 2007: Baja California did not follow the US regarding the date of when to set the clocks back, so we set our clocks back one hour before heading to bed. This morning we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast -- it was a beautiful morning, although the air smelled smokey because of fires in the hills east of us yesterday. After breakfast, we donned our grubby clothes and started hosing Mañana down. I think we washed 40 lbs. of dirt into the water. Although she could probably still use another bath, she looks so much better. In addition to the boat, we scrubbed the chairs, fenders, bimini cover, sun screens, dive compressor and kayak. At 1445, Linda, Judy, Margaret and I headed off for the circus(!) leaving the guys to fend for themselves. None of us could remember the last time we'd been to the circus. This was probably the best afternoon entertainment that 30 pesos could buy! There was the usual acrobats swinging high above the crowd, a clown, mini horses, white tigers, and larger horses who had acrobats performing on their backs. There was also "Super Boy". I think Francesco was 10 or 12; a bill board indicated that he started performing at age 2, and there was no doubt that he knew how to work the crowd. All in all, a fun 2-hour performance. When was the last time you went to the circus?? While I was out, Jim went to Gerald's boat to diagnose an electrical problem. Turns out there was no problem, so the work session quickly became a gab session, with several other folks stopping by. We both returned to the boat around 1730 and called it an early evening.
Oct. 27, 2007: Woke up this morning and looked out the portlight. Thought it was a cloudy or foggy day and then realized we are next to a big gray-hull boat! I walked with Linda and Judy today; now that I'm at Cruiseport, I get an extra 30 minutes of walking. Ah, my aching feet! Gerald stopped by to check out the purple heart rub rails and Jim ended up putting him to work! His dog, Buster, got a quick look at the cats and started non-stop barking. We figured this was a good thing and may help to keep DC on board the boat. Linda was making a Costco run, and we've learned not to pass up the opportunity to shop, so Linda, Judy, Margaret and I headed off with our lists. We returned two hours later, with Linda's little Toyota crammed full of bags. Jim spent the afternoon hooking up the Vacuflush on Lions Paw while I was on my hands and knees mopping the main salon floor. Jim (Ocean Dance) stopped by in the late afternoon. He was gone last week, so we brought him up to speed with the storm and fires and he stayed for dinner.
Oct. 26, 2007: True to Oliver's word, our taxi arrived at 0815. By 0900 we were hanging in the slings, the bilge pumps working as they should. The plan was for us to hang for 4 hours and then evaluate. At 1000 a worker stopped by and lowered us a bit more into the water as the tide was going out. By then the pumps had slowed down considerably. At 1100 Guillermo (the yard owner) asked how we were doing, as he didn't see the pumps working. We told him we were fine and we were taking on poco water. He asked how we felt about the boat and Jim told him we were ready to go. At 1130 the boat blocking the travel lift left. As Jim and I were trying to decide the best plan of attack for getting out of the ways (we back to the right and the wind was blowing from our left), 4 yard workers appeared and each manned a line. The supervisor asked if we would like them to rotate the boat...uh, si, si possible, por favor!! (yes, if possible, please) Several minutes later we were pointed in the right direction, lines were tossed onto the boat and we were on our way. Yippee!! As strange as it sounds, I will miss many of the yard workers. They have all been extremely professional, but more than that, everyone involved with the yard, from the security guards to the project managers, have been very friendly and helpful. We made a quick detour outside the harbor to, as Jim says, "make a deposit"...aka empty the holding tank and then we hailed friends in Cruiseport and requested assistance in docking. Several bodies turned out and Jim did a fine job squeezing Mañana in between the dock and the large Nordhavn that is next to us. Hugs all around for the help, we had lunch and then it was time to work. While I was washing down the aft cabin and then the cap rail and bulwarks, Jim was busy working on the davit brackets. By 1630, the hull looked presentable, the davits were in place and Jim was getting things ready for wiring the davits. I wasn't able to wash the cabin or decks because the davit pedestals have not been sealed and Jim didn't want me to get the area wet just yet. DC jumped ship around 1700. I found him a couple of boats down -- that certainly didn't take him long, but neither of us was surprised. After all, we'd been in the air for nearly 2 months! Linda and Jim (Gael Force) returned from San Diego bearing 5 bottles of tonic water and 6 cans of diced tomatoes, items that are nearly impossible to find down here. They are cat lovers and gave DC plenty of love...love he wasn't getting from us as we considered him to be in the dog house! We all need to get used to the feel of the boat back in the water and the new sounds of the marina.
Life in the Yard
Oct. 25, 2007: We ended up having to reverse our sleeping position because of the way the boat is blocked. Poor DC couldn't figure things out -- he normally starts out sleeping beside Jim, but it took him a few minutes to realize that Jim was turned around. After a while, he moves to sleep at my feet, but that was where my head was at and Jerry, who normally sleeps on my pillow, was greeted with my feet! Ah, what games we play with our pea-brained crew! We continued with projects as we waited for our taxi (the travel lift) to arrive. At 1100 we learned that we wouldn't be going in the water today. Rather than goofing off, which is what we really wanted to do, Jim spent quality time diagnosing why the bilge pump in the lazarette hadn't come on yesterday -- turns out that he had forgotten to wire it up (oops!). We also began installing the dinghy davit brackets. More ash covered the boat today. They are predicting this to be a normal occurrence for a while; the smoke was blown out to sea by the off shore winds. Now that the wind has shifted back into its normal on shore state, the smoke is being blown back to land. The fates seem to be conspiring against us having a clean or newly painted and varnished cabin! I've threatened Oliver that he's going to take us home for the weekend if we don't get splashed tomorrow, but he insists that our taxi will arrive "first thing"...whatever that means in mañana land! We learned this evening that a sailboat is now residing in slip D-10 at Cruiseport. Guess we'll be making a call for another slip in the morning.
Oct. 24, 2007: Woke this morning to the smell of smoke and a layer of fine ash (as opposed to cheap ash) covering the boat. Around 0900 the travel lift arrived and Mañana was put in the slings. She weighed in at 40,000 lbs, give or take 2000 lbs. And that's with empty fuel tanks, half full water tank and full holding tank! We were allowed to climb on board as soon as she was lowered into the water. We had previously opened the various floor boards so we'd have visual access to the bilge. Jim heard running water as soon as he opened the door. Oops!! The thru hull fitting that was installed had been left in the open position and Jim had never checked it! We've been out of the water too long, allowing the bottom planks to dry and sea water to come in. Despite the bilge pumps, the water was coming in the lazarette and started running down the floorboards in the aft cabin. Yikes!! I quickly removed the area rug and a few other things that were on the floor. Thankfully the water wasn't running in the direction of all our paperbacks that are under the aft cabin stairs. The yard worker noticed that a couple of planks didn't look very tight and had the lift operator raise us out of the water. It was decided that we would be brought back into the yard. :o( I don't know why, but the yard blocked us noticably bow high. Perhaps they thought the water would drain out the back? Anyway, it feels strange living in a tilted house! We agreed to have several of the planks recaulked and while that was happening, Jim and I made a trip to Alejandro's via the micro to pick up the new davit pieces. We also installed the brace that supports the bow pulpit and did our fair share of socializing and commiserating with other cruisers who are on the hard in the yard. The current plan is for the yard to relaunch us again early tomorrow morning and let us sit in the slings for 4 hours with the hope that the planks will expand enough so that we aren't taking on water. In the States, the yard would launch us at the end of the day and leave us in the slings overnight, but Baja Naval is not allowed to do that. This afternoon yet another fire started in the hills to the south of us, sending up a large smoke plume. The wind has changed direction so the plume headed our way. The sun went from yellow to florescent orange and gave us another beautiful sunset. We went to bed with the windows open, but the smell of smoke heavy in the air.
Oct. 23, 2007: It was flat calm this morning...eerily so. We paid the balance of the yard bill and told Oliver we are ready to go back in the water, but we don't want to be splashed until the paint situation is taken care of. So later in the day, another worker came by with that same rag and bottle of alcohol and he wiped the spots on the starboard side clean. No one ever came back with a paint brush. At this stage of the game, we are thinking "screw it!" Just put us in the water! We made use of the day by polishing and installing various stainless pieces. Fires continued to burn south of us and in the late afternoon, the smoke clouds from San Diego arrived, just in time to give us a spectacular sunset. It stayed absolutely calm all day long, so we were finally able to open some windows and get air inside.
Oct. 22, 2007:
0715: The winds picked up during the evening with gusts strong enough to rock the boat...not a comfortable feeling. We climbed out of bed at 0615 after hearing things crashing and bashing up on deck. Dirt found its way through the cracks in the windows and doors; we'd forgotten to close the portlight in the head causing the white floor, counter top and fixtures all to become coated in brown dirt. Varnishing left on the stove also wore a coat of dirt. We didn't dare close the bimini for fear of getting fingers caught between the rails so instead, struggled to remove the canvas top as the zippers were frozen. The aft starboard corner was just beginning to tear; we should have tackled this yesterday. We are sick and tired of living in this dirt. It's under our finger nails, in our eyes and in our teeth. We are not having fun right now, but we know we are not alone in our misery.
0915: We talked to Oliver and requested that we not be launched unless they absolutely needed the yard space. According to Oliver, no one will be going anywhere today; it is too dangerous to put anyone in the lift (it is so windy that the Port of Ensenada is officially closed). We will try again when the winds calm down, predicted for Tues. or Weds. The winds are still blowing a steady 25 kts, gusting to 35, but at least the air is no longer brown. However, one cannot stay outside for long because of the particles in the air. The yard workers are all wearing dust masks. I used the shop vac in the main salon and galley, trying to get as much of the dirt up as I could. I'm working on one room at a time -- the aft cabin and head will be next.
1215: At some point the Mexican flag was removed. Guess we've gotten so used to hearing it beat against the wind that we'd gotten to the point of not hearing it anymore! It was in the process of having every seam come apart. We received a news and weather update about the fires in LA and San Diego. We understand that east Chula Vista is under mandatory evacuation. Our thoughts are most definitely with our San Diegan friends and family right now.
1615: I noticed workers on the boat next to us looking south at fires that have started in the hills, perhaps 10 miles from here. The fires have sent up a huge smoke plume. We discovered dirt in the groove of several of the planks. Upon further inspection, we realized that the workers had repaired the gaps in the Sikaflex caulking after the painting was done. The workers never painted over the Sikaflex, thus allowing the dirt to adhere. We spoke to Oliver, who had the painting supervisor take a look. In our (humble) opinion, the painting supervisor is a jerk. He stopped by with a rag and a bottle of alcohol and proceeded to test one spot. Sure enough, the alcohol removed the dirt, but that isn't the solution to the problem.
2115: We went to bed with all the doors and windows still closed. The boat is stifling, still filthy and the wind is still howling.
Flag during Santa Ana Winds
Oct. 21, 2007: Oh, so frustrating!! High winds were predicted to start in the afternoon, so we made sure we were ready to paint as soon as the morning dew dried. Jim painted the bottom of the bow pulpit and then we started on the boot stripe. We had a good rhythm going and I opened my mouth and made a comment on how nice the paint was flowing when BLAM! The Santa Anas went from 0 to 25 (??) just like THAT and the temperature got hotter, causing the paint to flash off early. The huge Mexican flag went straight out (remember, this flag weighs over 500 lbs.) and the wind swirled around the boat, depositing dust, dirt, paint chips, etc. on our wet paint. However, there was nothing we could do except to keep painting. Jim commented that we are probably the only boat with a nonskid boot stripe! Sirens and ambulances screamed by on the main street on and off all day; the air is brown from all the dirt (mountains are east of us) and you can barely see across the harbor. We are wondering just how much wind the flag can withstand, hoping it's a lot because we're sitting underneath it!! Needless to say, the potluck was canceled. Jim worked steadily on installing and hooking up the new bilge pump panels. One thing is for sure. If it's like this tomorrow, I'm going to insist that we NOT go back into the water.
Oct. 20, 2007: A busy day. Jim got a lot of the stainless pieces polished before the Makita drill motor burned up while he was polishing the swim step ladder. He then spent an hour installing the folding step, flopper stopper mounts, recovery ladder mounts and plastic vent covers. While he was doing that, I scrubbed 8 of our fenders. There was no way I was going to allow those gritty fenders against the new paint! Later in the afternoon he painted the underside of the bow pulpit while I swept and vacuumed the dirt and sawdust off the side and aft decks. And as if that wasn't enough, we cleaned off the aft deck by putting a lot of the stuff into the lazarette. I finished varnishing the pieces I was working on; tomorrow I start on the name board. Oliver told Jim that we will be launched after lunch on Monday, so that means some time after 1400. We treated ourselves to a delicious dinner at Mahi-Mahi, except that Jim realized that he hadn't reattached the power to the bilge pumps, something we will definitely need on Monday. We were invited to join the Baja Naval marina crowd for a potluck tomorrow evening. I think we'll be good and ready for some well-earned relaxation!
Oct. 19, 2007: The boat is basically done now, with the exception that the new zinc around the rudder post has not been installed. We'll make a note and make sure it's done before we are launched. Jim continued working on the helm station and I continued varnishing. In mid-afternoon, we sanded the boot stripe. Unfortunately we are down wind of a wood boat that is being sanded. When the main salon door is open, you can watch their paint particles blow into our boat. Not particularly conducive to a good varnish job (I moved the varnishing inside to avoid the dust, etc.) or painting the boot stripe! I wonder how long it will take me to clean the boat...Jim's been up on deck cutting the helm panels and the sawdust is being blown in through the aft cabin windows. It's in the upper 70s today and much too warm to close the boat up. So I try not to look at things too closely for the time being. When we are settled into a slip I will bring buckets of water on board and clean from top to bottom! And I keep telling Jim that he owes me BIG time for being a good sport while we've been on the hard for these past 7 weeks, although it certainly hasn't been easy or fun for either of us.
Oct. 18, 2007: These damn mosquitos!! We were being dive bombed in the middle of the night so at 0230 I turned on the light and killed 5 mosquitos. Turned out the light thinking I'd got them all when I heard another buzzing in my ear. I wish I knew how they were getting in. Oliver told Jim that the workers will be finished with the boat today. That will give us a couple of days to get the 2nd coat of paint on the boot stripe and to remount all the hardware pieces that were removed for painting. They are talking about launching us on Monday. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'm actually looking forward to being able to cook again...me! the person who hates to cook! LOL!
Mañana with Cruise Ship
Oct. 17, 2007: The Jims made a morning trip to Alejandro's shop and while they were out, got 4 jugs of water. Jim returned with one of the stainless tubes for fitting purposes. He drilled a hole in the aft deck and discovered that his calculations were off and the tube needs to be an additional 6 inches long. So after lunch, the Jims made another trip back to Alejandro's, and again, picked up another 4 jugs of water. Jim said he was too embarassed to ask Alejandro if the tubes will still be finished on Friday. Eight jugs of water have put us up to 20" in the tank, which is half full. The starboard rub rail is in place and the screw holes plugged; workers are test fitting the rails on the port side.
Oct. 16, 2007: And the work continues! Early this morning, a worker came aboard to finish the thru-hull installation. While I was walking, Jim and Jim made a Costco/Home Depot run and returned to Alejandro's shop. Alejandro showed Jim the progress that has been made on our project; the tubes should be finished by Friday. The boat up wind is still being sanded, so I cleared off the galley counter to use as a working surface and put what I hoped would be a final coat of varnish on one piece. Unfortunately it looks like it will need at least 1 or 2 more coats. I'm having to keep the door closed because the sanding dust is blowing in. Jim returned a couple hours later bearing gifts from Costco: more coffee, tortellini, granola, cheese and rum. Work has started on the outer rub rails. Last week Jim coated a test strip with teak oil to see if it will keep the purple heart from turning brown. So far, it seems to be working. And last but not least, Jim replaced the shut off valve to our water tank (the old valve was broken).
Oct. 15, 2007: We awoke this morning to the workers' radio blaring heavy metal music -- now we know how our parents felt when we played our music (are we getting old, or what?)! Jim and Jim (Ocean Dance) headed off to Alejandro's when I returned from my walk, so I used the time to sand and put another coat of varnish on the helm panel (each piece gets 6-8 coats of varnish). Unfortunately one of the boats down wind from us was being sanded and dust clung to the wet varnish :o( When the guys returned, the three of us walked to the fish market for tacos de pescado (fish tacos) for lunch. Workers installed the air conditioner's thru hull fitting, finished applying the bottom paint, removed the zincs and polished the propellor. Oliver advised us that we will need to wait 2 or 3 days for the bottom paint to thoroughly dry before we give the boot stripe another coat of paint. He also recommended that we varnish over the vinyl letters on the name boards. Thinking that we will be launched later this week, Jim went to Cruiseport and reserved a slip. The pro's of Cruiseport are that there is no harbor surge and most of our new friends are there; the con's are that it is further from downtown and you have to listen to the cruise ships' generators and smell their exhaust while they are in port. Hopefully we won't be there longer than a few days (ha!). A weather front came through in the late afternoon: clouds and a cold wind. Brrr! Keep the door closed!! I went to Alfonso's for a pizza while Jim put his tools away.
Pretty in Blue
Oct. 14, 2007: Another productive day. While I varnished the helm panel, Jim sanded the boot stripe. Then we joined forces and rolled on the first coat of paint. After lunch, Jim began installing the instruments into the helm panel and I loaded pictures onto the web site (hooray!). We removed the masking tape later in the afternoon, when the paint was mostly dry. We hardly recognize our old boat with all her blue accents!
Oct. 13, 2007: I went food shopping early this morning, only to remember that I couldn't buy wine because it was before 1000. Every city has its strange laws! Today was a productive day in terms of projects. The remaining piece that makes up the new helm station received 2 coats of varnish, Jim visited the stainless guy (the work should be ready on Friday...he didn't say WHICH Friday!), I scraped the barnicles off the propellor and Jim sanded and primed the boot stripe. Additionally, I began the selection of the pictures what will go on the website (maybe I'll get some of them inserted tomorrow). Mañana's swim step was installed and the bottom is now sporting blue paint, although the workers did not paint the bottom paint on the transome where we requested. The shear rails received a second coat of paint. We're looking better and better! Jim (Ocean Dance) returned and has wheels. Based on a recommendation from Lazy Days, we headed off to Punta Morro for dinner. It had to have been the best meal we have eaten in Ensenada, and not much more expensive than Mahi-Mahi. The restaurant is part of a resort that sits at the ocean's edge. Waves crashed upon the rocks at the shore as we ate, providing a beautiful backdrop. Later on we enjoyed a lovely sun set and a mariachi band strolled through the restaurant serenading the patrons. Definitely a first class experience!! Returned to the boat and watched "Some Like it Hot", an oldie but goodie!
High Hilltop in Ensenada
Oct. 12, 2007: Happy birthday to me! I'm older than 1/2 century but younger than the speed limit! Bud joined us on the morning walk and talked Judy, Connie and me into climbing to the top of the hill to the view point that overlooks Ensenada. We ladies have talked about the best way to get up there, but we never bit the bullet. Bud's suggestion was that we just take the shortcut and follow the trail up the side of the hill. Well, duh, okay! So up we went, following this "trail" of dusty dirt, loose rocks, broken bottles and dried bushes -- thank heavens we didn't come across any live (or dead) critters! It was very steep and at one point I wondered if I'd bit off more than I could chew, but the prospect of going back down this trail was not appealing so I continued up. But the effort was well worth it...we were rewarded with a gorgeous view of the harbor and city. Too bad no one had a camera! In the afternoon, I noticed one of the workers rolling the bottom of our boat. I was across the yard and couldn't tell if they were washing it or painting it. When I realized that they were painting it red, I called to Oliver and told him it was supposed to be blue. He and Jim went round and round, Oliver insisting that we had not told him that we wanted blue paint, when in fact, we know we did. The swim step received a second coat of paint. We spent several hours tearing the boat apart looking for the thru-hull fitting for the air conditioner but did not find it. Either Jim inadvertently sold it at the last swap meet or he's put it someplace very safe. We had a lovely dinner at Mahi-Mahi, but it was a very chilly walk...chilly enough that we both put on shoes, socks and jackets!
Oct. 11, 2007: Norma's hubby, John, drove me to the marina at 0800, where I met up with Jim and Ron for breakfast. At 0915 we were on the trolley headed south and at 1000 we were on a bus bound for Ensenada. The boat had received another coat of paint -- we claim this is the 4th coat but the yard says it's the 5th and final -- the inner rub rails have been installed and the swim step was painted. We noticed that this time, the boot stripe had been sanded and masked off. Because we couldn't get on board the boat just yet, we left our bags at Oliver's desk and headed out for Plan A -- the movies. Nothing good was playing so Plan B went into action. We caught a micro down towards Office Depot in search of a new color printer. We returned an hour later with a new Lexmark. At 1530 the painting supervisor put a ladder in place for us, and then he came aboard and began removing all the plastic. This being Thursday, we headed off to La Vendemia for dinner at 1800. The patio area wasn't very crowded -- it wasn't until we went in for dinner that we realized that the rest of the crowd was wimping out inside the restaurant, rather than braving the cold outside! (Those of us outside were fortified against the cold with alcohol!!)
Oct. 10, 2007: Off to San Diego for an overnight visit. We were on the 0800 bus out of Ensenada, which arrived TJ around 0930. We were greeted with a LONG pedestrian line, so we walked back to the bus station thinking we might be able to take a taxi across the border. We negotiated a price to San Ysidro and were told that it wouldn't take long because the driver had a Sentry pass. We hopped in the taxi and were delivered to the end of the pedestrian line! When we objected, the driver told us that Mexican taxis aren't allowed in the US. Frustrated, we asked the driver to bring us back to the bus station. After a few more go-rounds, we decided to take a different taxi to downtown TJ, where we thought we'd try the Mexicoach bus. We only had to wait a few minutes before the bus headed for the "buses only" line at the border crossing. We don't know what the problem in the line was, but we weren't going anywhere fast and eventually the driver suggested that it would be quicker for us to get off and get in the pedestrian line, which was now non-existant! We finally boarded the trolley at 1045. Ron met Jim at the H St. station and I continued on to the airport. I had a wonderful lunch with Sherryl and the Ricks (and it wasn't Mexican food :-) and then visited with folks that I had worked with. Jim spent time running errands and we met up at the Chula Vista Mall at 1600. Dinner with Ron was at 1700 at the South Bay Fish & Grill (cheap burger Wednesday) and at 1800 I was visiting my quilting friends at the Oct. guild meeting. Norma adopted me and Ron adopted Jim for the evening (thank you, Norma and Ron!)
Oct. 8, 2007: Jim and I met with Oliver; Jim informed Oliver that the yard will sand the boot stripe area down to the primer coat for free. Oliver didn't object too much -- he's been repeatedly told that we didn't want finish coat on it. I put what I hope to be the last coat of varnish on the helm area. While it was drying, we raised the new davits onto the boat and removed all the packing material. They are so shiny!! Jim began taking measurements of the transome, the dinghy, etc. We still need to have custom stainless tubes made up to complete the davits, but it is questionable as to whether the stainless guy who works with the yard will be able to make them in our time frame. We were told last month that the guy is very busy; however, we had to ask. If we use someone other than "yard approved" contractors, the yard will charge us 20% of the total bill. We figured this was the best way to get around it.
Oct. 7, 2007: The helm area is really beginning to take shape; it now has 7 coats of varnish on it. It's been very quiet around here without Jim; I'm looking forward to him coming home tonight. I puttered around the boat doing small tasks: I removed the small pieces of torn plastic, wiped down the chairs, table, freezer and rails on the flybridge, did some hand washing and polished some of the stainless trim. Then I walked to the grocery store for a few items. We will need to make a major food run when Jim returns. The boat interior really needs to be wiped down big time, but with only 10" left in the water tank, I'm being stingy. Jim returned at 1730, tired and happy to be home. He had a great time fishing with the guys although they didn't catch as much as last year.
Oct. 6, 2007: It's cold here this morning (60 degrees) and I had all I could do to climb out of bed at 0530. I got off the boat at 0645 and walked over to the park, where I found a bench in the early morning sun. I read and watched two cruise ships dock. After my morning walk with the ladies, I killed time poking through stores downtown, had lunch at the fish market and then hunkered down in a comfortable chair in the office. The paint job looks terrific -- or at least it did until the wind blew a couple pieces of plastic loose and they stuck to the port bow and starboard aft before the paint was completely dry. Luckily it was not the final coat. I had asked the workers not paint the boot stripe area, but they indicated that they were going to paint it. I mentioned it to Oliver, who spoke with the painters. However, when I returned from my morning walk, the boot stripe was a glossy white. I was finally allowed back on board at 1345. Oliver gave me the interim yard bill; from what I can tell, it appears to be in line with the various quotes we have received.
Oct. 5, 2007: Today was a quiet day, with the exception of the howling of the wind from a windstorm. At one point in the afternoon, I went on deck armed with a pair of scissors and cut away the plastic that was blowing in the breeze. The workers used regular masking tape to hold the plastic in place. Unfortunately they secured the tape to the varnished flybridge rails and when I tried to remove the tape, the varnish came off. The tape has sat too long and didn't willingly peel off the stainless either, but adhesive remover will hopefully remove the gumminess. I'm hoping that we'll have plenty of time to do the miscellaneous painting/varnishing when we're at anchor down in Turtle Bay. It's apparent that we aren't going to be able to do it here. I put two more coats of varnish on the helm area -- low humidity (for a change) made it a good drying day. I was told that they will be painting the boat tomorrow morning. They will start replasticizing at 0600 and start painting between 0700 and 0730. I'm trying to figure out just where I'll go at that hour because the office doesn't open until 0800.
Oct. 4, 2007: The cats were royal pains this morning -- mouthy and climbing all over me to the point that I was out of bed before 0700. I put the first coat of varnish on the helm area and then went over to Lazy Days to thank Ron & Cheryl for taking such good care of the cats before heading out for my morning walk. At 1145 Cheryl and I headed off to Costco via a micro (pronounced "mee-cro". In LaPaz they are known as colectivos.). Cheryl had never been there and all I could remember was that it is across the street from WalMart. We went up and down the aisles and the next thing we knew, we had more in the cart than we could comfortably carry onto a micro (gee, I wonder how that happened?)! So Cheryl called for a taxi and 15 min. later, we were on our way back to Baja Naval, sometimes at high rates of speed that had us wondering where the fire was (seatbelts? not in this cab!). Costco's prices are definitely higher than those in the US by several dollars per item, but they had pretzels which is something that is impossible to find down here. I also bought a bottle of "Salsa de Frambuesa y Chipotle Asado", which supposedly means roasted raspberry chipotle sauce. Cheryl says it is heavenly poured over cream cheese...given the size of the bottle, I'll be serving this as an appetizer for the next 10 years! I decided to pass on going to La Vendimia tonight -- the cats are clingy, I'm tired and I spent all my money!
Oct. 3, 2007: We arrived Migracion at 0900...again...and this time my folder was on top and ready. Fingerprints and signatures were obtained and I was given my visa. Jim and I are now legal residents of La Paz! We returned to the hotel to pack, and I noticed that one of the documents that Migracion had given to me was not date stamped. We weren't sure if this was important, but Jim's copy had been stamped, so I took both copies and ran back to Migracion. Thankfully it was only a block away from the hotel. Sure enough, the document should have been stamped -- I'm very glad I noticed that! After checking out, we took a taxi to the bus station, which was about 1/2 mile from the hotel. By 1000 it was at least 90 degrees and Jim had quite a bit of luggage plus his fishing poles. His bus to Los Barriles left on schedule and I returned to the hotel, where John & Lisa met me at 1130. Again, no one in LaPaz cared to see my paperwork. Had a lovely flight back to Tijuana; this time, Migracion did ask to see my paperwork and wanted to know where I was headed, but there were no problemos. I arrived in Ensenada at 1715, and stopped at Alfonso's for a pizza before heading to the boat. Everything looked fine -- the boat has another case of the green spot disease, the new vinyl letters were applied to the name boards, and the boys were happy to see me!
Oct. 2, 2007: We arrived Migracion at 0900. There was mass confusion because the officials could locate Jim's folder but not mine. Two workers poured through file cabinets and other loose-lying folders and eventually my folder was found at the bottom of a stack on someone's desk, not finished. However, Jim was approved, so finger prints and signatures were obtained and his visa returned to him. I was asked to return tomorrow morning. We made a point of letting the officials know that we were returning to the US tomorrow afternoon (okay, that was a little white lie). From there we found our way to a Notary for an estate matter and then to DHL to get the package on its way. As we were walking along the malecon back to the hotel, we recognized the couple walking towards us -- it was John & Lisa (Andiamo)! The last time we saw them was in 2004 when they stopped in Chula Vista for a visit. We chatted briefly and made a date to meet at Rancho Viejo for dinner at 1800. We continued on with our errands -- to the bank, the bus station, Dorians (a department store) and eventually a late lunch at Hermanos Gonzalez. We enjoyed an hour in the pool before we headed out for dinner. We recognized "Pelican" John sitting in front of the restaurant with another cruising family, so we quickly brought him up to speed with our plans before John & Lisa arrived. Had a very nice dinner as they told us of their trip to the South Pacific. We said good-bye at 2030, however, they offered to take me to the airport tomorrow morning.
Oct. 1, 2007: Round two for our Mexican residency visas. We arrived at Tijuana airport at 1015 and absolutely no one asked to see any of our paperwork -- go figure! We flew Aero California this time and were impressed with the service. When it became apparent that the flight was going to be late, airline representatives went through the waiting area checking IDs and taking boarding passes. When the plane arrived, everyone lined up, filed onto the plane and away we went! Again, when leaving the baggage area in LaPaz, no one wanted to see our paperwork. Perhaps they don't do immigration checks on Mondays?! It was close to 100 degrees when we arrived at the hotel. Our room, this time, overlooked the pool.
Sept. 28, 2007: A very gray and blustery day, although the sun made a brief appearance mid-afternoon. Jim continued working on the new helm layout. He should have it finished by the end of the weekend and I will varnish it while he's out of town next week. I finished quilting my wall hanging. This is the first piece that I have totally hand quilted; I don't think I want to hand quilt a queen-size blanket, but I'm proud of my work. It definitely got better as I went. We met with Oliver late in the day to discuss the work schedule and to let him know that we will be gone next week. He indicated that current estimates have us being finished Oct. 11 or 12. That date fits in with the more realistic 6-8 weeks that we anticipated (vs. their 2-3 weeks). Workers are busy readying the plaza next to the boat yard for tomorrow's festivities related to the Rosarito to Ensenada bicycle race. We heard about this race when we lived in San Diego; now we'll get to see it up close and personal!
Sept. 27, 2007: We were awakened at 0630 by workers plasticizing the boat (the plastic gets shredded by the wind after a couple of days). We were told that painting would begin at noon, but at 1000, we were given 5 minutes' notice that the painting was about to begin. We quickly changed into street clothes (vs. yard clothes) and closed all the port lights and hatches. Jim talked to the workers and told them that the transome was not finished and they were not to paint it. Jim also relayed the information to Oliver, and asked that Oliver make sure that the workers understood Jim's instructions. We then headed to the Santo Tomas winery, about a 20 min. walk, stopping first for bus tickets for Monday's trip to Tijuana. We did the wine tour backwards, sampling the wine first because there was a tasting that had just started. For US$5.00 pp we sampled 3 whites, 3 reds, 1 grenache and 1 port, all very decent wine and not outrageously expensive. Afterwards, we were taken on the tour. Our guide's English was very good and he had a good sense of humor. It wasn't until after lunch when we had a chance to inspect the paint job. The workers had painted the transome, despite our instructions. Additionally, we noticed that the caulking job on the starboard side was very sloppy in areas. So we brought Oliver to the boat. His comment was that we shouldn't worry; the transome had been epoxied then painted. Jim pointed out that the epoxy needed to cure 24 hours before painting and showed him that Carlos had not finished work on the transome. We then showed him the caulking on the starboard side and asked how it will be repaired. Oliver conferred with another worker; we don't know how it will be fixed but he assured us it will be. As for the epoxy, the transome will probably have to be resanded.
Sept. 26, 2007: Jim was offered a r/t trip to San Diego to pick up the purple heart lumber we need. The timing was perfect as we were notified that the davits were air freighted out of Seattle yesterday afternoon. So Jim and Gerald left Ensenada at 0900 and returned at 1830, each of them having successfully accomplished their tasks. I enjoyed being a bachelorette for the day -- I had Rosa cut my hair REALLY short. Then I basically goofed off the rest of the day -- I finished a book, did a little quilting and went to the grocery store for a couple of items. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out where Jim had downloaded all our photos on his computer...so much for working on the photos-on-the-website project!
Sept. 24, 2007: It has been chilly here the past couple of nights (translate that to low-to-mid 60s), so this morning I replaced the light weight quilt with a the heavier one. There are days I'm still in awe of the low food prices here. After this morning's walk, I went to the Super Gigante and bought 3 limes, 1 avocado, 1/2 lb. pimento loaf, 1/2 lb. ham, 3 bollos (rolls), 1 package of tostadas, 1 small bottle of water and 1 container of pineapple juice. The items filled 2 grocery bags and cost me a whopping 57 pesos (or approx. US$5.50). We made reservations to return to LaPaz next Monday via Aero California...our FM-3 visas had better be ready by then! I'll return to Tijuana/Ensenada alone on the 3rd and Jim will bus it down towards Cabo and hook up with his fishing buddies. He'll return to Ensenada on the 7th. We think we've figured out a way for me to put the pictures on the website. I'll play with it later this week.
A Case of the Green Cooties
Sept. 22, 2007: Jim talked to Oliver after breakfast, and was assured that the hull had received a thorough coat of epoxy before the primer was applied -- whew! Today one worker dabbed green putty on spots that needed to be sanded or faired; another started sanding/prepping the swim step for paint and yet a third was chiseling the old caulk out from between the transome planks. By the time the workers quit for the day, the boat looked like it had a serious disease! In mid-afternoon, when we had the boat to ourselves, Jim removed, repaired and rebedded the stainless trim along the edge of the swim step and the lazarette hatch and I continued sanding the cabin sides. We treated Ron and Cheryl to dinner at the Mahi-Mahi.
Sept. 21, 2007: After a leisurely breakfast, we walked to Lopez Marine, about a mile away. Jim was hoping he'd be able to pick up a special paint additive for the bottom paint. Unfortunately the "good stuff" that prevents bottom growth is no longer legal or available. From there we walked to a computer store, where Jim was able to find the replacement fan for our refrigeration system. By this time the temperature had to be in the 90s and it was very humid so we caught a colectivo back to the malecon. We had a late lunch, after which we took a taxi to the aeropuerto. Our flight was supposed to leave at 1745, but was delayed until 2000. Remember the uncomfortable seats in Tijuana? Well, both the Tijuana and LaPaz airports were designed and built by the same company, so those uncomfortable seats were in LaPaz, too! Oh, our aching buns!! We finally arrived Tijuana at 2100 (there's a 1 hour time difference) and once again, we were singled out by Migracion and asked to produce our visas. This time, though, we had to rely on the photo copies that we were given in LaPaz. The agent asked where we were going, to which Jim answered "Ensenada". Can you imagine the reaction of the American public if everyone who did not look American was asked to show their visa? We got seats on the 2230 bus and arrived Ensenada at midnight. At 0015, we paid the taxi driver, went through the gate at the yard and were greeted with a white Mañana. Wait a minute -- did I say a white Mañana? Jim did a quick check and discovered that the yard had found our paint. What we didn't know was if they had epoxied the boat first but we were too exhausted to care. The boys were very happy to have us home. Many thanks to Lazy Days for taking such good care of them!
Sept. 20, 2007: We dressed in our finest clothes and headed to Migracion after breakfast. We presented the agent with our visas and residency letters, thinking that they would read the letter and stamp our visas. Boy, were we naive! She proceeded to pull form after form out of a folder. By the time she was done, we had a long list of items that we needed to provide -- financials for the last 3 months (2 copies), 1 copy of our entire passport AND visa, 3 pictures (front and side shots), letter from us requesting residence status, and 2 forms, 1 of which had to be typed (the FM-1 form). And we needed to have all this back to her by 1300! Jim questioned the need to provide more financials, since we had done that in July when we received our FM-3. Yes, she knew we had previously provided some of the requested information, but it didn't matter. So we headed off in search of the holy grail. The pictures alone cost us 220 pesos (about US$21) and finding an internet cafe that had a working printer was a challenge. Surprisingly, we found a little stand manned by a gentleman that had a typewriter. Unfortunately he spoke no English and we'd left our dictionary back in the hotel. The FM-1 form had numerous boxes that required a description of your face, skin tone, size of nose, forehead, eyebrows, lips, chin, color of eyes, etc. Thankfully a lady stopped by the booth and she turned out to be our guardian angel. She spoke English and was an enormous help in translating. The only question that tripped us up was the one where we had to provide the names of 2 Mexican references, so we left that blank. We returned to Migracion 3 hours later, offering the agent our folders filled with papers. We were told that we had to fill out the references block, so we gave the name of some American cruisers here in Ensenada, hoping that Migracion will accept them. The agent recorded our information, assigned a number to each of us and gave us a copy of one of the filled out forms, writing the number across it. She then told us to come back next Thursday! When we told her our plane was leaving the next day, her response was "no problemo, come back next Thursday". We told her the trip was very expensive and asked if we both need to come? "Yes, of course." Then we told her our flight would arrive around 1400 and could we pick up our visas at that time. "No problemo, you can pick up at 0900." Okay, it quickly became apparent to us that SHE had "no problemos" and we had mucho problemos! She made sure we knew that we could not leave the country; that the photocopy she had given us was worth gold as long as we remained in Mexico. Terrific! We left there feeling totally dejected; ah, here we go again with the stupid Mexican paperwork runaround. What if we return next Thurs. and the paperwork isn't ready (especially in light of the fact that another tropical storm is headed for LaPaz this weekend) or more information is required. Jim is going fishing with the guys Oct. 2, flying out of San Diego. I think we need to come up with Plans B-Q. We headed to the pool after a mid-afternoon siesta (it's still 95 and very humid). An hour later and sufficiently pruned, we headed out to Rancho Viajo. It hasn't changed in 3 years and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner.
Courtyard and Patio at Los Arcos
Sept. 19, 2007: Up and off the boat at 0545 for our great adventure to LaPaz. The bus ride was 1-1/2 hours and true to form, we didn't get to see the end of the movie. Because we were travelling on an FM-3 visa, we bypassed the Migracion booth, only to have an agent catch up with us. The agent got a glimpse of the visas as I was taking them out of my pocket book and we were allowed to continue on. We got our boarding passes and then had to play the red light/green light game. Jim got a green light and I was allowed to walk through with him. The flight was an hour late and the seats at the airport are INCREDIBLY uncomfortable -- a 1" hard foam cushion for the seat and back. When it came time to board the flight, we formed a line and walked across the tarmac to the plane. There we were greeted with a single cabin; no first class and all seats were the same. The flight to LaPaz was terrific. The Baja peninsula is so narrow that we were able to see the Sea of Cortez and identify several of the anchorages. We arrived in LaPaz less than 2 hours later and were stopped by an immigration official who asked to see our visas. He wanted to make sure we knew that we had to establish residency within 30 days. When we told him that was the reason for our visit, he let us go on our way. We checked into the Los Arcos Hotel (highly recommend) and then strolled to Marina de LaPaz for our residency letter (it was 95 degrees). It was after 1600 by the time we had what we needed so we strolled to the polka dot tree for an ice cream --- mmm mmmm! Just as good as we remember!
Sept. 17, 2007: Another peaceful night. I don't know what happened to the disco that was playing music into the wee hours of the morning last week. After my morning walk, Jim and I were invited to tag along with Bobbie as she ran errands at Home Depot and WalMart. Both stores are extremely gringo-ized. WalMart's prices on liquor was very good. We decided to take advantage of having use of a car and we bought some wine, beer and rum. Bobbie then drove us to a water distribution center where we were able to have our two 6.5 gal. jerry jugs filled for 20 pesos. It wasn't until Jim was logging our expenses that he realized that WalMart had added an extra 25% tax on the wine and rum, in addition to the regular 10% IVA tax. Sleezy, sleezy, sleezy! Our antenna should have gone up when we saw the prices so low. As the saying goes, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is." We definitely won't buy any more liquor there, and we will pass the word along to our new cruising friends. Jim is still researching rental cars and is designing the new lower helm layout. Baja Naval has the teak but not the staff to cut it for him, so that's his next research project. I put the 4th coat of varnish on the name boards. They are looking very nice. Oliver has indicated that the name and hailing port will be applied later this week while we are away. While I was varnishing, Jim went to a local internet cafe to print the airline and hotel confirmation notices (our printer is currently out of commission). Then he walked to the bus station and purchased 2 tickets to the Tijuana airport for Weds. morning. Spanish class was excellent tonight. Al told us that we are going to learn 10 verbs each week plus he gave us a list of the Spanish terms of basic boat parts. He has us read out loud and corrects our pronounciation. He didn't conjugate the verbs, so that is left up to us. At 1800 a group of us left class and headed to La Palapaloca (say that 3 times fast) for Monday Night Football, where we joined a small group. La Palapaloca had several specials, so we had taco de pesca y taco de pollo for dinner. We didn't stay for the entire game because the cigarette smoke from the guy next to me was getting to us. Still, it's been a LONG time since we've watched a football game on TV. :o)
Independence Day Parade
Sept. 16, 2007: All was quiet last night except for the fireworks, and those were a few miles away. This morning we walked up to Calle de Juarez and watched the parade. It consisted of 49% school kids in military-looking uniforms, 49% of military men w/ machinery and 2% other (the parade queen and vaqueros (cowboys on horseback). There wasn't a fire engine in sight :-( Afterwards we walked back to the boat, stopping for a coffee along gringo gulch. From there, we walked through the plaza and checked out the flea market. DVDs, albums and books were the main items for sale. A few bands performed in the afternoon; they sounded like garage bands -- consistently bad. I put a third coat of varnish on the name boards and Jim researched rental cars to Mexico. All in all, a very quiet and laid back day.
Vaquero de Gato!
Sept. 15, 2007: There was a wild crowd downtown last night. At 0130 Jim had to get up and close the hatches in the aft cabin so we could sleep. We are coming up on a holiday weekend (el Dia de Independencia) and the parties are beginning. Good progress was made on port side today, but the workers leave between 1300 and 1400 on Saturdays. Jim and I split a sandwich at lunch and in the mid-afternoon, we walked up to McDonalds for an ice cream (vanilla only). From there we went to Cleopatro, a store that has clothing for dogs....yes, dogs! They had the cutest little sombrero for US$4.00 that I decided DC really needed! So we purchased a pretty dark green hat and when we returned to the boat, we got the camera all lined up and had DC model the hat. He was one pissed off cat, but as always, he forgave me! I got a second coat of varnish on the name boards and then began hand quilting my wall hanging while Jim worked on the helm station. At 1800 we headed to La Vendimia for dinner. We thought it would be a nice gesture on our part to support Katrina for all the freebies/discounts she gives the local gringos. Had a wonderful dinner of Caesar salad for 2 and Jim had a bowl of sopa de cebolla (french onion soup) and I had a bowl of sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup). It was just enough and was yummy! We closed the hatches before we headed to bed and hoped for the best. Thankfully the festival is a mile or two away, so maybe it will be quiet.
Sept. 14, 2007: Finally! Workers descended upon Mañana en force this morning. A group pow wow was held so that everyone is on the same page. One worker marked off our new water and boot stripe lines while another got to work routing the seams between the planks on the starboard side. Jim removed the old vinyl letters from the name boards, sanded them and then realized that our varnish base was no good. So he headed off to the chandlery and to the Tel Cel store. No joy in the varnish department, but he purchased us a cell phone chip that will allow us to call the US (20 min for $1.00). The catch is that it is good only while we are in Ensenada, or approximately for the next 2 months. He was able to get one coat of varnish on the boards and continued working on the helm station redesign. We booked flights and a hotel for a quick trip to LaPaz next Weds through Friday. We are in the country on an FM3 visa which requires that you establish your city of residency within 30 days of checking into the country. We don't have any idea how long this process takes, so we decided to err on the safe side. We fly in and out of Tijuana on an airline we've never heard of (I'm not feeling particularly warm and fuzzy over this trip!).
Sept. 13, 2007: Workers stomped their way onto the boat at 0645. For a minute we were excited thinking today was the day, but instead, the workers plasticized our starboard side to protect us from paint overspray from the boat next to us. There will be no work on our boat as long as the boat(s) on either side of us are being painted. Needless to say, we aren't happy campers! Jim caught up with Oliver and showed him the planks that are opening and the damage that is starting to occur. When I returned, Oliver stopped by to say that 'for sure', the routing will begin in the morning. A little while later he stopped by again with the sample for our name boards. The font is the same but the color combination is a little different. We gave the go-ahead for the new vinyl, which means we now have to get busy sanding and prepping the name boards. I sandwiched one of my new wall hangings and while I was doing that, Jim was busy tearing apart the helm station! The helm panel redesign has been something he has wanted to do for 6 years; he figured this was a perfect time to do it as we aren't going any place fast (that's an understatement)! Today being Thursday, we headed to La Vendimia at 1745 for dinner and drinks (2 for 1 drinks plus free pasta and salad buffet). There was a big crowd, gringos from the US, France and Canada, and one Mexican gal named Zoyla (? sp). Around 1830, a mariachi band stopped at the restaurant and Zoyla sang a couple of songs with them in Spanish. She had a wonderful voice. There were also a couple of people celebrating birthdays, so we got to hear the Mexican birthday song, followed by the "Happy Birthday" song we all know. John on Gael Force reported that a few people went to visit the family whose house burned down. They brought a car full of donated items, plus a tin containing US $1500! Wow! He said the wife looked in the tin and her eyes nearly popped out of her head. She slammed the lid down on the tin so hard which made her husband curious as to what was in it. His eyes, too, bugged out, the lid was once again slammed shut and the tin was put away someplace safe. It was such a great evening; I felt honored being able to participate in the activities.
Sept. 12, 2007: Still no work on the boat, despite the fact that Oliver said that work would begin in the afternoon. Jim told Oliver that our planks are beginning to open up, which is not a good thing. Management claims there is a shortage of workers, but the yard continues to haul out 1 or 2 boats a day. It's very frustrating, but we had to agree with Ron that we would experience frustration no matter which yard we were in. Baja Naval is just half-price frustration! The vinyl lettering guy has said "mañana" again. Jim touched base with Sam regarding the new davits. Because we are playing in the "big water", Sam recommends some modifications to the original design. At this point, we are watching the $ signs creep up, up and away. We were invited to Lazy Days for appetizers, along with Dave and Suzy from Lady Lexi.
Sept. 11, 2007: Jim headed to Chula Vista early this morning; spur of the moment estate items to take care of and supplies needed to be purchased. I started sanding the cabin's starboard side shortly after he left (no walking today). This side has never been painted in the 7 years that we've owned the boat and it needed more than a light sanding. So rather than do something wrong and make more work, I decided to leave well enough alone and will tackle it again when Jim returns. Afterwards, not wanting to waste having the boat to myself, I dug out my sewing machine and a couple of projects and started quilting. I put the borders on an unfinished wall hanging that I won at the 2005 Quilt Retreat and I will use it to practice my hand stitching. In 2004 I purchased a piece of fabric in Loreto, Mexico. I didn't have a clue what to do with it, but I loved the colors and the pattern. Having gotten a few ideas from my quilting magazines, I went through my stash, came up with enough coordinating material and had the top complete by dinner time. The yard moved a new boat in beside us. DC really hates the noise of the travel lift's engine. Oliver stopped by with the vinyl lettering guy. The photo didn't work and the guy wanted to see the name boards in person. I asked Oliver when we might expect to see work begin on the hull and his response was "today or tomorrow". Well, nothing happened today, so we'll see if tomorrow truly is tomorrow, or whether it's mañana!
Sept. 10, 2007: The last thing I wanted to do this morning was go walking, but I was a good doobie! Work on the boat appears to have come to a stand still. I'm not sure if the yard is still waiting for the router bit to arrive; supposedly it was expected on Sat. I guess that is the next logical process. Oliver (our project manager) took pictures of our name board and gave them to the vinyl lettering guy so he has an idea of what type of font we want. Cheryl and I walked downtown and poked through the shops along "gringo gulch". It was very quiet -- no cruise ships in port. From there we went to the the grocery store. I bought a small bottle of water, 2 peaches and 1 grapefruit for 11 pesos, or US $1! The grapefruit alone would have cost me over $1 and I doubt you'd find a small bottle of water for 35 cents in the States. Cheryl and I also stopped into the local fabric shop. I found a fabric that just might work for curtains -- I'll have to come back with the pillow cover to see if it's the right shade of tan (and I'll need to do some converting. The fabric is 130 centimeters wide and is 44 pesos per meter.) We attended our first Spanish class, taught by a liveaboard in a nearby marina. In preparation of the upcoming independence day celebrations, last night's lesson was about Benito Juarez, an ex-president of Mexico. Although the teacher knew his history, he tended to veer off from the subject and would repeat stories. But we did learn things. We'll give it another try next week to see if his teaching methods are more organized.
Sept. 9, 2007: The dirt has finally gotten to me. This morning I went outside with the vacuum and made a good dent in all the dust. Then I wiped down the chairs, cushions, etc. The boat looks much better, although that's not saying a heck of a lot! Mail call! Friends John and Liz arrived with one month's worth of mail just before noon. We walked over to the taco stands at the fish market and had lunch -- 8 small tacos, 4 beers and 2 Cokes cost 120 pesos, or around US $11.00. Can't beat that! Later in the afternoon we joined them at their hotel for a dip in the pool and a soak in the hot tub...aaahhh! After a before-dinner drink at El Patio, we walked around checking out the menus of the various restaurants. The guys put the decision in our hands so we couldn't blame them if the meal was bad. In the end, we decided on the Mahi-Mahi. The food was extremely good, reasonably priced and had very generous portions, but the drinks were expensive. John and I had linguine w/shrimp and scallops. We both could only eat half of it (it will make a delicious dinner another night). Then we went back to El Patio for an after-dinner drink or two (El Patio was John & Liz's old hangout when they were on the hard for 5 months). Somehow we managed to climb the ladder and get ourselves on board without breaking our necks! Jim is slowly crossing projects off the list.
Sept. 8, 2007: Jim installed Skype on his PC, allowing us to make phone calls to the US for pennies as long as we have internet coverage (which is a challenge at Baja Naval. Their internet comes and goes on a regular basis.) It's definitely nice to have even though you have to deal with the time lapse.
Valle de Guadalupe Winery Tours
Sept. 7, 2007: Early this morning Jim and I walked around the yard, paying attention to the width of the other boats boot stripe (a stripe of a different color that is directly above the bottom paint) and deciding whether or not we want to have our hull planks routed, and if so, how much of a groove. The yard gave us an estimate of almost $1000 to apply the boot stripe -- forget it, we'll do it ourselves. They also gave us an estimate of $7000 to paint the cabin -- forget it, we'll do that ourselves, too. Then we headed to La Vendimia. Katrina was a wonderful and at times, colorful, tour guide. We were perhaps 30 minutes outside of Ensenada, up in the hills where it was very hot. By the time we arrived at the first winery, everyone on the bus knew what was expected of us -- sip, swirl, sniff, swish and swallow! Lunch was served after the tour of the second winery, which was a commercial winery. Beautiful grounds and decent wine. At that time, she taught us our Mexican word of the day: pisteal. Soy pisteal. That translates to "I'm sh*tfaced." Well, we weren't really, and I'm not sure how often I'll have reason to use the word, but as I mentioned, Katrina was colorful at times! The third winery was what is considered a boutique winery; a small family-owned winery that produces 4000 cases a year. Their wine was very good, but was also the most expensive. I retrieved my laundry when we returned. It cost 120 pesos, but everything smelled good and was neatly folded. Pricey, but worth it. The boat is an absolute disaster. I actually took the broom and tried to sweep off the side deck. I have no idea how or if we will ever get the boat clean. The hull is now bare, but there will be sanding in between coats of paint -- and we're putting 5 coats on. Aarrgghh!
A Naked Mañana
Sept. 6, 2007: In talking with people here in the yard, many of them told me that they left their dirty laundry with the guard and it was returned the next day washed and folded. However, no one knew exactly who did the washing. But given that there are no laundromats nearby, I stuffed a trash bag with clothes and gave it to the guard early this morning. He didn't know how much it would cost, but I'm thinking even if it is a bit expensive, it will be worth it. At 0830 I poked my head out the door and commented to Jim that we were being "plasticized". The yard was taping plastic on our boat to protect us from the paint that was being applied on the boat next to us. The wind blows the plastic, which rustles and freaks out the cats. I walked again with the ladies -- today we did the big hill and the steps. The scenery from the top of the hill was spectacular. Too bad I was doubled over trying to catch my breath! I'll be down to 120 lbs. in no time flat if I keep this up (wishful thinking!). Jim got the drawing/dimensions off for the new davits. The boat is an absolute dirty disaster. The yard has become quite busy and we are between boats being worked on, so we don't always realize that the sound we hear is actually coming from our hull. Then we see sanding dust and realize that we probably should close our hatches and portlights. The interior is horrible -- dust everywhere. The exterior is worse. I cringe every time I have to climb down the ladder. Right now it's so bad that I climb down the ladder and head for the bathroom so I can wash the dust off my arms and legs. I do understand that this, too, shall pass, but for now, I am not in a happy place! At 1730 we met Ron and Cheryl and went to Katrina's restaurant (La Vendimia = Blessing of the Grapes). Thursdays are 2 for 1 drinks with a free pasta buffet; dinner and drinks came to $10 pp. Katrina is in charge of the Shriner's convention that is due in town tomorrow. She offered us space on the bus headed for the wine country in the valle de Guadalupe -- $25pp for the bus, 3 wine tours and lunch (1030 - 1600). We gave her a resounding "yes"! Her only comment was that we not tell the Shriners how much we are paying because they are being charged $65 pp. I have no idea where we are going, but it's got to be better than where we are!
Ensenada's Huge Flag
Sept. 5, 2007: Last night was "the attack of the mosquitos". We both woke around 0200, slapping ourselves silly as mosquitos buzzed in our ears. I turned the light on, killed several mosquitos, shut a couple of hatches (that had screens) and we went back to sleep. Amazingly, we managed to sleep in past 0600! While I was out walking with 3 other ladies this morning, Jim was busy removing the davits and the various hardware pieces so the yard can continue sanding the hull. The yard moved us before lunch so we've lost our view of the harbor, but now overlook the plaza where the HUGE Mexican flag is. A couple of informational stats on Ensenada's Mexican flag. There are only a few of these huge flags in Mexico; they are supplied by the Mexican Army. The flagpole is 11 stories high. The flag, itself, weighs 250 kilos (or 550 pounds). I'm not sure of its dimensions, but I've never seen such a big flag. As Sept. 16 is Independence Day, a new flag was raised a couple of days ago. We watched as military men stood shoulder to shoulder holding on to the flag as it was being raised. When a gust of wind caught it, the line of men went flying. It's the most impressive thing I've ever seen (the size of the flag, not the flying line of military men)! Ron and Cheryl arrived and Lazy Days was hauled. They are several boats down from us. The hot and humid weather finally broke this afternoon. What a refreshing difference -- it almost feels cold! We had dinner at Alfonso's last night. We were told they have the best pizza in Ensenada. Our medium ham & pineapple pizza was 110 pesos (about $11) and it was very good.
Mañana Gets Stripped
Sept. 4, 2007: We've come to the conclusion that it is not possible to sleep past 0600 here. If it wasn't our ship's clock, it was the spring line slapping against the hull. If it wasn't that, it was the loud music. So last night we climbed into bed thinking the battery has been removed from the clock, we're out of the water and away from the music -- we'll be able to sleep in -- YES! No! At 0545 the harbor fog horn began blasting into the boat. I looked out the porthole and sure enough, it was foggy outside. It stopped after 5-10 min. and just as we were drifting back to sleep, it started again. So much for sleeping in. A cruise ship is in port today -- the schedule is going to be off for the next few days because of the 2 hurricanes dancing around Mexico. If you're wondering what it's like to live on the hard, try this: Find a ladder and put it on the outside of your house; climb to the second story. Have someone hand you a 3 gallon bucket that is filled with dirty dishes, glasses, etc. Don't forget the Joy and a sponge. Then climb down the ladder with the bucket and the items you'll need for your shower. Next, walk across the street to your neighbor's house, walk to their 2nd floor bathroom and proceed to wash your dishes in the shower. You get to wash yourself at the same time -- isn't this fun?? When finished, reverse steps and put dishes in strainer to dry. Make note to self to buy paper cups -- trash is a lot easier to deal with than dirty dishes. Oh yea. There wasn't room in the bucket for the pans -- that's another trip. The yard workers began sanding the bottom paint this morning, forcing us to close all the hatches. We had every fan that's on board turned on; it was 90 outside and felt hotter inside. By early afternoon, though, we were able to open things up again. There were a couple of times when the worker removed our ladder so they could sand. We decided that if we couldn't leave the boat, we might as well be productive. The galley is now sporting a new faucet. Because of the incident at Mission Bay, Jim has lost faith in our dinghy davits and got a quote for new custom-made davits. This is a reputable company in Seattle and they indicated there is only a 2 week lead time. So the measurements for the new davits will be faxed to them tomorrow. I wasn't too thrilled with the thought of spending the money for davits, but have to agree with Jim in that the davits are almost as old as the boat and if one side failed, will the other? Perhaps it is time... He is also looking into importing purple heart wood to go along the outside of the rub rail. I'm not sure just how these two items will make it to Ensenada...perhaps the tooth fairy will deliver them.
Sept. 3, 2007: I write this from 9' in the air! At 0800 yard workers passed our boat and headed down the dock. We watched as they brought Nordic Maiden (from Poulsbo, WA) to the dock on the other side of the travel lift. Then 4 or 5 guys descended upon Mañana -- lots of activity in getting lines rigged while the supervisor talked to Jim about how many slings will be used (4). One worker passed by the open door, saw DC stretched out on the settee and said "oh, hola gato...gato gordo!" Si! Gato gordo, indeed! (fat cat). Maybe it's time we put the big guy on a diet! We hopped off the boat and watched as the travel lift came into position, the slings were attached and Manana was raised out of the water and wheeled into the yard. Her bottom is actually pretty clean, considering it was cleaned over a month ago. The bottom was pressure washed and then she was wheeled into position and blocked (we have a beautiful view of the harbor). At that point, the travel lift went back into position to get Nordic Maiden. So now the fun of living on the hard begins. I'm not particularly fond of ladders, but the one against the side of our boat seems to be pretty sturdy. At lunch time, the yard workers set up a volleyball net and play volleyball in front of our boat. I wonder how long it will take for the ball to end up on our boat! Our project manager, Oliver, talked to Jim about what is to be done and came back later with an estimate that said they would remove the paint down to the gelcoat. Jim told Oliver there is no gelcoat -- we are a wood boat. So Oliver went off, revised the estimate and came back again, with another out-of-touch job description. And once again, Jim told Oliver we are a W*O*O*D boat -- no gelcoat! Guess we'll have to keep a close eye on the work, although the yard is reported to have a very good reputation for paint jobs. And as I type this, the volleyball just landed on the foredeck, bounced off the forward cabin and returned to the ground -- it barely interrupted the game! And a touch of gossip: Jim was told that Baja Naval's manager was here yesterday and was very upset with the loud music. Apparently many of the surrounding docks have issues with these guys and the Port Captain has been contacted.
Sept. 2, 2007: You have to understand Ensenada. There are numerous boats that take people out for a 10 min. harbor cruise. I have no idea where all these people come from, but they are willing to pay 20-30 pesos for a boat ride. In 2004, Jim and I hopped in the dinghy and followed a boat. Believe me, there is nothing terrific about the harbor! Anyway, our dock is directly across from a dock that has 2 tour boats going out. At 0600, we woke to extremely loud music coming from one of the boats. Not to be outdone, the other boat decided to play its own very loud music. Shouldn't these people be in church? At 0930 we headed into town on an ATM and grocery run. A large container of yogurt, 2 avocados, 3 tomatoes, 6 limes, a package of tostados and 1 lb. of tortillas came to less than $8.00 (on Catalina, the limes were 40 cents EACH and in Chula Vista, avocados were $1.50 each). I made spanish rice when we returned to the boat. A potluck to benefit a Mexican family whose trailer burned to the ground was held at the Cruiseport Marina. Although we don't know the family, we figured it would be a good way to meet the local cruising community. There was a big crowd in attendance, but our guess is that MAYBE one or two boats will head south. The crowd was mostly seniors in their 60's, and clearly happily situated in Ensenada. However, I was introduced to Rosa, who is a hairdresser ($8.00 per haircut - I have an appt. on Tuesday) and I met several ladies who walk every morning. So it was definitely a beneficial afternoon. We met one lady who mentioned that she is supposed to help the yard haul a boat out first thing tomorrow. We thought that was us, but it's not. We aren't the only folks wondering if it's really going to happen! Cruiseport Marina is where the cruise ships come in. It is much quieter than Baja Naval, as it is a few blocks away from the malecon, but we hear it is much more expensive. At this point in time, I'm willing to splurge, just to get some peace and quiet. And speaking of splurging, we received an email from Peter saying that he and Babs would like to take us up on our offer to fly them to Zihuatanejo in January for a week. We are so psyched!
Sept. 1, 2007: The ship's clock's bells started dinging at 0550 and wouldn't stop. Mind you, the switch is in the OFF position! I swear the bell is haunted! Nothing happened today...it was too hot and two cruise ships were in port! No sense going anywhere when the ships are in port -- prices are jacked up and there are lots of drunk and ugly Americans that I would just assume not be associated with. Baja Naval is in the process of installing either a new or rebuilt engine in the travel lift. We've seen people working on it, but have yet to hear it run. So we wonder if we will really be hauled on Monday?
Thirsty Sea Lion
Aug. 31, 2007: Up at 0600. Jim wanted to arrive Ensenada early enough for us to check into the country. Jim checked the instruments and noted that last night's current put about 2.5 miles on our log! That's some fast-moving water! We had one pod of dolphins swim past us, but they were apparently on a mission as none detoured to play in our bow wake. We have yet to see any other dolphins or whales. We arrived Ensenada shortly after 1300, thinking we would anchor for the weekend. The anchorage zone has been downsized because of the safety requirements for the cruise ships that come into port -- there was one boat at anchor and it appeared as if it hadn't seen anyone on board for quite a while. Plan B was to hail Juanito's for a mooring ball, but no one responded. Most of the mooring balls are occupied by derelict-looking boats and there were only 2 empty mooring balls. So onto Plan C...we hailed Baja Naval on the VHF but got no response, so Jim called them and we were told to take the slip in front of the travel lift (theoretically we will be hauled out on Monday). I have no idea what the going slip rate is here. As we were idling in the harbor, Jim noticed a big fat sea lion edging up to our boat trying to get a drink from our engine's raw water cooling discharge, which comes out from our starboard side in a steady stream. My thought, while looking at this huge and fascinating creature up very close and personal, was "oh please don't bite the tube"! That was different! Once tied up at the dock, Jim went to the office to start the paperwork process and was told that we needed to get to the Capitania del Puerto before 1430. So we changed into our Port Captain clothes and took off, arriving at 1425 -- whew! Mexico has changed the process and it is now handled very efficiently, everything being in one building, and the process order numbered on each window. So we cleared Immigration and then checked in with the Port Captain. Then came Customs. The agent made me sit away from the window and required Jim to declare the liquor, cigars, etc. that we have on board. Well, we have 2 cases of Two Buck Chuck (from Trader Joe's). The agent found it very difficult to believe that wine costing $2 per bottle would be good enough to put 2 cases aboard. So Jim suggested that the agent get on the internet and look up Trader Joe's, which the agent made an effort to look like he was doing. At one point we were going to have to pay $160 in import fees. However, it was interesting that the agent kept questioning Jim about the liquor that was on board (open or new bottles, etc.) and eventually he told Jim to press the button (in Mexico it's a red light/green light game as to whether or not you pay duty/get searched). Green light -- YES! We thanked the agent and headed back to the boat. There is free wi-fi and I'm told there is a special phone line that allows boaters to call the US for free (5 min. limit). "Hooligan" from Orcas Island is on the next dock -- we'll visit them tomorrow; and believe it or not, we've already run into 2 people we knew from Chula Vista. It just goes to show that this is a very small world!
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