Tag Archives: boat

10 Days in La Paz

Arriving in La Paz
by Hugh

On the drive down there was plenty of time for our thoughts to wander. It was easy to compare what I was feeling then, in the car, to what I had imagined we would feel weeks or months ago when we were planning the trip. The feelings were a lot different. Honestly there was a lot of second-guessing and questions. At one point, I turned to Bryson and said “Seriously, what is going on? Did we actually buy a boat in Mexico? Are we really driving to Mexico right now?!?! Exactly why did we do all this?” Apparently we did buy a boat and we were indeed on our way! So walking down the dock and getting on the boat brought the whole trip home. It was truly a sailing trip then. (Bryson’s Note: We haven’t been sailing yet – so far it has been a boat-fixing trip)

What to do?

Right away we were both extremely overwhelmed. We knew we had a lot of work to do on the boat, but seeing it all before us was pretty daunting. Where to start, what to do, where to go? I madly started making lists and forgetting them and trying to do things all at the same time. Bryson just started washing her down, then we went and got some dinner and went to bed full of worries, concerns and excitement.

The next day we pulled everything out that we could, and scrubbed down the entire interior with biodegradable cleaner. It was really helpful just to get a handle on the situation, just clean and look around for the beginning of the day. Next, we made a list. A big list. After prioritizing all the items as a 1, 2 or 3 priority, we got stuck in. Bryson dove into the electrical and charging systems, and I began to tackle the radio installation and plumbing. Best not to think about all the jobs but just focus on the one at hand. For the past 12 days, we’ve just been working our way down the list here in La Paz, and we’re starting to get a hold on all the things that have to be done to the boat.

Unless you’re a sailor interested in fixing up a boat to go offshore, the last 12 days have been
pretty/extremely boring. If you are, read a few of the highlights below, all others can skip the rest. Electronics: About 4 years ago all the electronics on the boat were updated. What the previous owner didn’t do was remove the wiring for the old electronics. Equipment was removed (mostly) and the wires were left in place. So we have pulled out about 200 ft of redundant wiring. The short-wave radio was installed with about 2 ft of ground plane, and had a Coax wire to the backstay antenna. Not going to work – reinstall. Battery Charger had boiled all the batteries dry and needed replacing. Lights didn’t work. Too many electrical devices not breakered and running directly from the battery. The list goes on and on… just e-mail us if you are interested in the 4-page list of electrical things to fix. Plumbing: We’ve installed fresh-water and saltwater foot pumps, a 3rd water tank, and will be installing a water-maker tomorrow. Steering: There was a leak under the wheel so salt water was getting to the main steering pulleys. The bolts were almost rusted through, and the pulley and assembly came apart in 4 pieces when we pulled it off. We’ve replaced that, as well as all the steering cables. Had to remount the binnacle and seal it all. Engine/fuel; We’re fortunate that the fuel tank is easily accessible… that meant Bryson got to empty it, and scrape out the 25 years of crud accumulated at the bottom. He smiled the whole time! Had to install the battery off switch, remove all the old sour fuel, get and install a fuel gauge…

Work? What work? We left our jobs weeks ago?

Someone emailed me a few days ago and said: Send us some pictures of you drinking Margarita’s in the sun! You know, there really hasn’t been much of that/any of that! Our routine pretty much goes like this: Wake up at 7am, get some sort of exercise for about an hour, then get to work on the boat. Saw, solder, screw, scrape, pull, hammer until it gets too hot outside, then work in the cabin until it gets too hot in there too. Hose yourself down on the dock and repeat until about 10pm. If you haven’t worked on a sailboat or are having trouble imagining what it’s like to work on the boat, picture a cross between mechanics, Bikrams’ yoga, and meditation. Mechanics, well that’s easy; The hot yoga because the temperature is about 35 degrees below deck and you’re contorting yourself into tiny, awkward spaces; The Meditation, the patience of a Zen master is required not to break anything and get frustrated. By the time we are done, we wander up the street to get some taco’s at a nearby stand, and crash out in our bunks. I haven’t even had time (or the space) to unpack my duffle bag. I’ve been rotating 3 pairs of board shorts and 3 shirts. Despite the long days and hard work, it is looking good. Khulula is starting to feel like our boat, and every time as I look around her to see every repair, customization or upgrade, I smile to myself.

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La Paz Trip and Boat Purchase

Haul Up, Survey and Sea Trial Repair

Whew! Well, there are been a lot of firsts in the adventure, and that weekend was one of them. On the weekend of March 3rd and 4th we went back to La Paz, where Free Run is moored. We needed to be present for her survey and sea trial before completing the final sale.

For all you non-sailor types out there, a survey is a complete mechanical and electrical inspection of the boat by a qualified professional. Just as you wouldn’t buy a house without an inspection, buying a boat without a survey is asking for trouble… expensive trouble.

Ryan arrived in La Paz late Friday night. Don, the current owner of Free Run, was kind enough to pick him up and take him to the boat. They talked well into the night about the boat systems and all work Don had done on her. The haul-out was scheduled for 9am on Saturday. When I arrived at 11pm on Saturday night, Ryan has just got back from the surveyors house where he was acting as secretary; typing the survey as it was dictated to him.

As I mentioned, a survey is done by a qualified professional. In our case “qualified professional” was the understatement of the year. We hired Cecil Lange to survey Free Run. Cecil, a Kiwi, has designed boats, built boats, sailed boats, pretty much lived boats for most of his 82 years… that’s right, 82 years! And at 82 he was still climbing all over Free Run, crawling around the bilges, and cracking jokes at everyone’s expense. It was great! That being said, we were 100% confident that he would turn up anything that was wrong with the boat.

As soon as Free Run was hauled out of the water Cecil immediately went to work tapping the hull with his hammer. This is done to detect any areas where water has entered the fiberglass of the hull. Water leads to blisters in the fiberglass, and eventually soft, weak areas. With sailboats, water = bad. He spotted two areas of concern. On the center line of the hull near the bow of the boat there was a small crack in the hard surface covering the fiber glass. Cecil wasn’t too concerned, but thought it needed to be fixed none the less. The fiberglass on the rudder also showed some signs of stressing and cracks where the main rudder post joined the rudder. This was more of a concern for us. It is not unheard of for a sailboat rudder to break in the exact place where Free Run’s showed fatigue. With the boat out of the water, and the yard with some available labor, we made the call to do the repairs then and there rather than put-off the work until we got back. This would save us quite a bit of time and money later on, but meant we wouldn’t get to do the sea trial that weekend.

After going over the hull, Cecil went ‘top-side’ to inspect the rigging, deck fittings, engine, bilges and electrics. To be honest, I think the details would be boring to anyone but a sailor. What matters is the end result: all systems were go and given a great report! So after a 13 hour day we enjoyed a great dinner and cervesa to celebrate. But the work certainly wasn’t done yet. We knew that a number of things on the boat still needed attention. We wanted to look at all those items a closely as possible before heading back to Vancouver, so we could start amassing parts and materials to work on the boat.

The next two days was spent inspecting and measuring sails, measuring the cabin and locker space, sizing water tanks, and taking inventory of all the gear and parts on the boat. Each hour the “To-Do” and “To-Buy” lists grew, and the stock of Tecate shrank. By Monday night we had a pretty good idea of the tasks that await us when we return in May, and the boat started to feel a lot more like our own.

Signing the paperwork and the final payment was all that was left. So on Tuesday morning Gerry, a friend of Don’s, drove into Cabo San Lucas to make the payment and have the US Consulate notarize the Bill of Sale. We finished the deal with a hand-shake and celebratory drinks in Cabo. It was then straight to the airport to catch our flight home.

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Boat Shopping in Mexico

Mexico?

We weren’t having much luck finding a suitable boat for our adventure in Vancouver. There are plenty of helpful brokers, but the boats we looked at were either too small, needed too much work, or were too expensive. With our planned departure in a few short months, the lack of boat started to become a real issue! Continue reading

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Boat? Yes, we need one…

“Have you got a boat yet”? This question comes up a lot. “It’s going to be hard to sail around the world with out a boat”. Yup, we know. There has been a lot of talk about boats lately. With our spring 2007 departure rapidly approaching, it’s pretty much at the top of the list of things that need to get done.

In fact, we’ve been looking at boats for over a year now in and around Vancouver and online. What has been really great is how many leads we’ve received from friends and family who know about our plans. We’ve followed up on most, but still we’re boat-less. There was a fire-sale on a Maple Leaf 42’ in Steveston that Bryson was teased with by a salty old marina hound. The Newport 41’ Hugh found on Craigslist (!) that we took for a sail in Seattle but just wasn’t big enough down below. And a beaten-up, over-priced Fraser 42’ in Nanaimo that was, well, beaten-up and over-priced!

Through all this looking we have learned a lot. As we narrow down our criteria for a suitable vessel, it is becoming clear that what we’re looking for just isn’t too common in Vancouver. Now there are plenty of suitable boats, but our criteria also includes affordibility. That’s where things get difficult. Add to that the equipment necessary to sail offshore safely, and we’re going to be broke before leaving the dock. So Plan B is rapidly becoming Plan A. Plan B? Go south. In 5 months (yikes, did I say 5 months!) we’ll pack up things here in Vancouver and hit the I-5. Around Los Angles we’ll get out the map and start driving to marina’s. If we haven’t found something by the time we reach Tijuana, then we’re going to resort to Plan B2.0: Mexico, Florida, or the Caribbean. Why those places? Supply and demand. Those are the places, relatively close, where sailors, for whatever reason, finish their voyages. We’re hoping that with a bit of luck and good timing, we will find a boat that will fit our budget, and carry us safely where we want to sail. In the mean time, we’re trying to get as much information from cruisers who are sailing at the moment, or ones who have recently returned, on where we’re mostly likely to find the boat.
So Plan B is rapidly becoming Plan A. Plan B? Go south. In 5 months (yikes, did I say 5 months!) we’ll pack up things here in Vancouver and hit the I-5. Around Los Angles we’ll get out the map and start driving to marina’s. If we haven’t found something by the time we reach Tijuana, then we’re going to resort to Plan B2.0: Mexico, Florida, or the Caribbean. Why those places? Supply and demand. Those are the places, relatively close, where sailors, for whatever reason, finish their voyages. We’re hoping that with a bit of luck and good timing, we will find a boat that will fit our budget, and carry us safely where we want to sail. In the mean time, we’re trying to get as much information from cruisers who are sailing at the moment, or ones who have recently returned, on where we’re mostly likely to find the boat.

It’s not an ideal situation, since having the boat in Vancouver for a few months would allow us to kit it out exactly as we want. Any major refits could be made with out having to live on the boat while doing them, and a shake-down cruise would let us learn valuable information about our vessel in the relative safety of Georgia Straight and the West Coast. Many cruisers spend years outfitting their vessel for an offshore trip. We’re planning on arriving in a foreign port to buy a boat, and departing as soon as possible. Bold, we know!

Until then, well, make all the other preparations we can, save our pennies, and dream of the day, not far off, when we cast off and sail away on our own boat…

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