Always Forward, Never Back!

We never thought that our bottom would cause us so much work. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The last few weeks have been frustrating and tough. But we have fought our way through the slump and are now actually working on several projects at the same time. Forward instead of sideways! That’s how we like it.

Fairlead repair with Totalboat epoxy

Though bottom

The fiberglass work on the underwater hull was tough as chewing gum. Time seemed to stand still. And so, we were completely frustrated for the first time during the refit. But you know what? That’s history! Water under the bridge! Because we’re done! We have solved the osmosis problem on our underwater hull as best we can, at least temporarily. Goodbye fiberglass work, hello progress!

8 holes less

In the meantime, we have also been able to close the superfluous thru-hulls. At first, we had closed them with the wrong material. The hole saw had to be used again, all the nice plugs in the neatly prepared holes in Milagros’ hull had to come out, and the right material came in. After the correction, we put a few layers of fibreglass over the plugs on both sides and after drying, a big sander from SV Alegria was used. So, the 8 old, unused thru-hulls are history now.

A long to-do list

For a few days now, our focus has been on the freeboard, the hull above the waterline. In fact, we have been able to break the curse. We are making good progress again and are working our way forward step by step. In order not to lose the overview, we have declared a wall in the boat to be our to-do list. It is now covered from top to bottom with Post-Its, on which the many tasks that still need to be done are noted.

Pati sitting in front ouf our homemade to-do-list

Many small holes

We had painstakingly sanded our freeboard down to the old primer and partly to bare fibreglass. This revealed that the cracked gelcoat had led to erosion. Because the tiny hairline cracks in the gelcoat constantly allowed water to penetrate the fiberglass, we were faced with a hull that had tiny holes everywhere. These had to be closed. I am deliberately writing in the past tense here because we made good progress in this respect too.

Fairing with Totalboat

I’m sitting in the Cruisers Lounge at Cabrales Boatyard right now. This is after lunch and coffee, and after I have just about finished fairing the boat. I have managed to get rid of most of the small holes. For the filling we used Totalboat Fairing Compound, a two-component epoxy-based filler. Very easy to use. The filler comes in two containers. In one container the filler is yellow, in the other it is blue. Mix the two colours 1:1, and when the compound is green after a little mixing, you can start fairing.

Fairing is like riding a bicycle

Doing so, I listened to the Cinéswiss podcast of course. My good friends Alex, Spike and Hill back home in Switzerland are my first choice of entertainment when doing work on the hull. My many years of experience from working as a construction painter really came in handy for the first time. Fairing is like riding a bicycle. Once learned, you never forget how to do it. Milagros’ freeboard is now a light shade of green. The only hassle was that the putty is epoxy-based. The warmer it is outside, the faster the putty dries. And since the sun is merciless here in the far north of Mexico, the hull heats up pretty quickly. Not very helpful.

Good and cheap

We have already ordered the paint for the freeboard and finally decided on the cheap version – also from Totalboat. We set our original plan of painting a high-end product at naught when we calculated how much it would cost – which would be a fortune. With the cheap paint, it won’t hurt quite as much when we crash into something during training with Iñaki and Carmen.

Time for new rigging

Another front where we can at least announce a little progress is the rigging. We had a visit from Jamie from SV Totem and he kindly did a little inspection of our rigging. His conclusion was: “You are lucky to have made it to Puerto Peñasco with the mast in one piece.” As expected, it is high time to replace the mast supports, but we didn’t know that the condition would be so precarious right away. We were lucky. We still have to tick off a few points of preparation, then the mast is ready to be unstepped and laid down. This brings us one step closer in our three top projects: painting, water tanks and rigging.

Time for a rigging replacement
Damaged strand

Time will tell

While we’re on the subject of the top three: The least advanced so far is the work on our corroded water tanks. This is because we simply could not decide yet on how to replace them. Should we have them welded again? Do we build our own out of wood and fiberglass? Do we want plastic tanks? How can we increase our water capacity? So many choices! And none of the options so far have felt perfect. This is why we procrastinate the water tank project so far. But that might be the right tactic insofar as the water tanks could be vital for survival. There’s no point in rushing into the refit. Time will tell.

Plans for replacing our stainless steel water tanks
A possible tank design

Our new Force 10 oven

There is also news in our galley: Jim, one of our neighbours, brought us our new Force 10 stove/oven in his huge motorhome when he travelled back from the US for a few days work on his boat. This after he first had to locate the stove in Phoenix, Arizona in days of painstaking search work. Many thanks for that! The installation is not quite finished yet, but we can actually cook and bake!

Simply brown

Once again, everything took longer than planned. After we had removed the old propane stove (we gave it to Carlos, the gatekeeper), the now bare back wall in the kitchen had to be freshly painted. So, we went straight to the paint shop and decided on a light brown. Only problem being that the light brown back on Milagros turned out to be a bright orange with a slight brown tint. Eye cancer! Ewwww! This was not the best choice on our part. So back to the shop where we were kindly re-mixed a beautiful, now actually brown, free of charge.

New suspensions

The back wall was painted quickly. Nothing special there. As the stove has to be able to swing freely in the boat, special hangers (called Gimbals) are supplied with the stove. However, after input from other sailors and a bit of research on the internet, we finally decided not to use them. They are made of thin stainless steel, and we have found one or two stories where the gimbals have given way, sending stoves flying across boat cabins. That’s ultra-dangerous! We don’t want a stove to the face nor do we want burns. So, we have to get other suspensions.

No flying lessons

In a blog post we found a template on how to replace the gimbals with a much stronger construction in a relatively easy way. Therefore, we ordered two aluminium plates in the USA, which we want to have machined by the workers here at Cabrales Boatyard. That way we don’t have to worry about our new Force 10 suddenly taking flying lessons. I also checked with the company itself.  They answered a few days later. In the near future, Force 10 will supply new and stronger suspensions with their ovens. They were kind enough to send us a few brand-new gimbals directly to the boatyard. Thank you Force 10!

An adventure awaits

So that’s what happens here in Puerto Peñasco, day in, day out. We are happy that we can finally report good news again and move forward. It’s about time something happened. We have big plans for May and June and won’t have time for Milagros. Can you guess what’s coming up? 🙂


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