Now that Milagros is in the water, we can finally untie the lines and head out into the big blue! Haha, what a joke. The work continues. We are preparing Milagros and ourselves for our first big trip. We’re also going on a road trip and my parents are coming to visit. It’s a tight schedule while we finish yet another lap around the sun. It’s 2022!
Work on the mast
Work on the boat continues – only with a nicer view. David had the pleasure of enjoying this view from a slightly different perspective. Namely from a height of 50 ft from the top of the mast. Three times. As you may remember, we had a problem with the navigation light. Windex and anemometer also had to be installed, and a few other little things had to be done as well.
View from above
I cranked David, who was secured several times and equipped with all kinds of tools, up the mast. His enthusiasm was limited, but what had to be done, had to be done. Once at the top, the two wind instruments were quickly mounted – given the adverse conditions with limited freedom of movement and the altitude. The navigation light came down with him so we could inspect it. We quickly discovered that we had not installed the 3-colour LED bulb rotated 180° (you can’t do that), but had simply mounted the base offset by 60°. How stupid!
Our minds started to spin and there was one or the other cuss word to be heard. Of all the things we could have done wrong, the problem was all the way on top of the mast. But then we came up with the idea of using a white bulb instead of the 3-colour one and just turning the coloured housing by 60°. Then we didn’t need to move the base. No sooner said than done, and indeed – it worked! Lucky again!
Christmas was just around the corner, and although neither of us are Christmas fanatics, and we don’t listen to Mariah Carey and decorate everything festively from 1 December onwards and run around in Santa pajamas, we still went to see the boat Christmas parade. This year it took place for the first time here in Peñasco. About 20 large and small motorboats, monohulls, catamarans and nut shells left the harbour just before sunset, cruised around outside the harbour basin and returned home colourfully decorated in the darkness. Some filled the harbour basin with Christmas sounds and music, others set off fireworks. It was a great sight, especially as the moon was full.
And of course, we had to make Swiss Christmas cookies. So, we dedicated a day to Christmas baking and made Spitzbuben sandwiches, cinnamon squares and Mailänderli balls. At first it seemed like we had completely overdone it with the quantity – which was the case – but less than 5 days later they were all gone. But there was still enough for the Christmas potluck in the Cabrales boatyard.
Hoisting the sails
Next it was time to hoist the sails, after all we had to make room in the v-berth because my parents were coming to visit. The first thing we did was hoist our genoa (headsail) on a windless afternoon. It still looked like new, which it is at 3 years old, and had creases because it had been folded below deck for over a year. Everything worked pretty smoothly, apart from the fact that the winch belonging to the jib furler needed urgent servicing. Next time we climb the mast we will check that everything is as it should be.
Those lazy jacks
The next day we hoisted the mainsail, which was a bit tedious because the so-called “lazy jacks” (lines stretched diagonally between the mast and the boom and guiding the sail while hoisting) were in the way. So much for guiding the sails. After removing these lines, it was easier, but when we had the sail almost up, a light wind came up from the side, which made it tedious again. So, we postponed threading the reefing lines. We hoisted the sail again the next day; now everything is ready.
Runs like clockwork
Actually, we only wanted to stay in this marina (Safe Marina) for a few days and then change to another one (Fonatur). But as it is, plans change. So, we will probably stay in Safe Marina until we leave. The big disadvantage: no shore power in our slip. This also means that I can’t vacuum, because the 300-amp fuse that still has to be installed in our inverter is only on its way to us. I was all the more pleased when we tested our little petrol generator and it worked straight away. That gave me the opportunity to test it a bit and vacuum the whole boat. While David pumped up our new kayak, I prepared the inside of the boat for my parents’ visit.
A little joy ride
David also pumped up our dinghy. For one thing, we wanted to know if it was still waterproof, for another, we were invited for an after-work drink at the other end of the harbour basin by a Dutch family on a catamaran. Luckily, the outboard motor started immediately, so nothing stood in the way of our little joyride.
A road trip
After 15 days of sailing with my sister, my parents flew from La Paz to Tijuana, and we took the opportunity to visit our friends Steven, Susanne and Max in Ensenada. The route took us through the rather barren desert in the biosphere reserve “El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar”. Then through the former delta of the Colorado River, a fertile area with a lot of agriculture. The Colorado River is the river that also flows through the Grand Canyon and supplies 40 million Americans with drinking water. Because so much water is taken from the river on its way, hardly anything reaches the delta today.
The last leg took us and our rental car over the Peninsular Ranges, a mountain range that stretches 1500 km from Southern California to the tip of Baja California. After 600 km and about 7 hours of driving, we finally reached Ensenada. First, we treated ourselves to the best ceviche tostadas in the world at “El Güero”. Then we drove to the marina where we had bought Milagros back in 2019 and – who would have thought it – were not let in at the gate. This experience was now repeated for the fourth time. The email with our registration that Steven had sent to the office had not reached the guard.
Just like old times
After some time of waiting, the situation was clarified and we were let in. So, nothing stood in the way of our reunion with Steven, Susanne and Max after 14 months. We ended the day with a beer and tacos and were invited to spend the night on Steven and Susanne’s boat Tranquila. The next morning Max invited us to SV Galena and surprised us with breakfast, tea and coffee. Just like old times, time flew by and soon it was time to say goodbye again.
We made our way to Tijuana to pick up my parents from the airport. The almost two-hour drive was very impressive, especially in the second half, where the foothills of the big city became apparent in the form of slums and houses as far as the eye could see. The parking situation at the airport was also very interesting. After a few rounds, we parked along the highway with a view of the rusty border fence to the USA. After a short wait, we could finally pick up my parents.
Spontaneously, we decided to spend another night in Ensenada. We didn’t realise how quickly it would get dark. Especially the last stretch through the desert with lots of potholes and no mobile phone reception, we didn’t want to drive in the dark. And we didn’t want to deprive my parents of the beautiful landscape either. We reached the Airbnb flat shortly before sunset. The view of the sea was nice, but the condition of the flat was rather typically Mexican: very nice at first glance, but at second glance, cutbacks were made here and there in the construction and maintenance. This was evident the next morning after it had rained heavily during the night. In some places, the plaster was falling from the ceiling. And the entrance door could not be closed from the inside either.
Changes in the landscape
After sunrise, we stocked up on coffee and snacks and headed for Puerto Peñasco. It was very exciting to watch nature change again, this time in the other direction. The landscape changed practically every half hour: from palm trees, lush green and a lot of colours, to only green with cacti, rocky and bushy, to sandy and barren within a few hours. The thunderstorms of the night must have moved on towards Peñasco, because about 150 km before our destination, where we were to turn onto the last part of our route into the biosphere reserve, the road was severely flooded. At first, we thought we would have to turn back, but the Mexican army was present and showed us where we could safely cross the little lake that had formed.
As Peñasco slowly came into view, we saw a huge wall of rain moving along on the horizon, and when we got reception again, the pictures from Peñasco came in. Everything was flooded and the electricity was also out. We braced ourselves for the worst, but we made it to the marina without drowning the car and ourselves. Back on board, Milagros awaited us with a surprise: leaks in the deck. Welcome back!
The water was coming along the mast, through the vent in the forward toilet, the hatch in the v-berth, the gas hose and in the cockpit the emergency bilge pump (in descending order of quantity). Well, now we know. And everything can be sealed. So, no problemo. We mopped up as best we could and went out for pizza. After all, it was New Year’s Eve. Since we were all tired from the trip, we slept through the turn of the year.
Into the new year
Our goal was to complete my parents’ Mexico and boating experience. With sun, 25°C, exploring La Paz, sailing on Anila, snorkelling in the Baja and swimming with sea lions, they had already experienced one side. Here in Peñasco, we were able to offer mainly the other side of the spectrum: Rain, below 10°C at night, potholes, sewage smell, desert, ship worries and boat projects. With the latter, we started directly into the new year.
We had 3 of them on the list: drill a water drain hole in the mast base, mount and wire two 12V sockets and seal the leaks. As usual, it sounded easy, but it’s a boat, so it wasn’t. And even my father, the experienced DIYer, fell for it. Even drilling the drain hole got out of hand. We had to mourn the loss of a drill bit and creatively find a solution. And when it came to the wiring, we had to take half the boat apart in the classic way.
The tide is low
Around the turn of the year, the tide was also particularly low. So low that our boat touched the bottom. Our draught is 1.93 m and we measured a water depth of 1.70 m at the deepest point. That was scary, but since the bottom is muddy, it wasn’t too bad. I just wondered if the boat would tip over to one side or the other. But there was nothing we could do about it. So, we closed both our eyes and hoped for the best. And you know what? Nothing happened at all.
Peñasco Tourist Programme
We made full use of the last day before my parents’ departure. Very important: No Peñasco visit can end without apple cakes from Candy Cake. So we supplied ourselves with the delicious bakeries on our way to the dunes. On our drive through Peñasco, we had to evade a couple of lakes. The hike through the dunes was super nice, and we were practically alone. Afterwards, we strolled along the Malecon and enjoyed the sunset with a margarita. For dinner we had spaghetti in a homemade tomato sauce with fresh scallops and prawns. Mmmmh.
And already it was time to say goodbye again. It was great to show my parents the boat and where we had lived this past year. That was fun but far too short!
We wish you a happy new year! And remember: if you need a break, you can always come visit us! Cheers!
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