The time had come. Our very first season on Milagros was about to end. What remains is a whirlwind of memories, so many new acquaintances, and oh so many new skills. We have achieved a lot and are proud of ourselves. But there was still a little work ahead of us. We had to get Milagros ready for their summer hibernation. And dock the boat for the second time within a very short time. Aaaaah!!
We were still anchored in Bahia Algodones. The jet skis and wakeboarding boats whizzed past us left and right. As the weekend approached, the San Carlonians would gather on boats and party at anchor until well into the wee hours. What we couldn’t really process for the first few days after all the weeks of loneliness far away from civilization quickly became everyday life. The ocean does not only belong to us, but to everyone after all.
In the run-up to our crossing to San Carlos, we had heard that a few other Kelly Peterson 44s were also present. So, we quickly asked around online. A gentleman called Greg reported, who was docked in the Fontatur Marina Guaymas with his boat “Nada Mas”. We exchanged numbers and made a quick call to introduce ourselves. “I lived in Switzerland for a few years!” said Greg. “In a small village in the middle of nowhere. You won’t know it anyway. The name of the village is Pfeffingen.” Pati and I looked at each other in disbelief.
The world is a village
Dude, what? Pfeffingen is the neighboring village of Aesch, where we live in Switzerland. How crazy is that? We are anchored on the other side of the world with our sailboat and introduce ourselves to an American who not only lived in Pfeffingen, but also owns the same boat as we do. Sometimes not only Aesch and Pfeffingen are villages, but the entire world.
Even more friends
Shortly thereafter we met Greg at the beach to get to know each other and exchange ideas. He also brought two neighbors from the marina with him. Michelle and Joseph from SV Soul Rebel also came along. And so, the meeting of the Kelly Peterson owners from Aesch and Pfeffingen turned into a get-together with drinks and food. That’s how it always is with us sailors. Beaches, foods, and drinks. What we didn’t realize was that meanwhile disaster was brewing.
Since the bar was at the opposite end of the bay where we were anchored, we covered the stretch on our dinghy. The trip there and back should be our last trip with our dinghy. As always, we heaved it together onto the sandy beach upon arrival. However, we had reckoned without the tides and placed our small, inflatable dinghy too close to the water. As the water rose, the surf was able to fill our entire poor little dinghy with seaweed, water, and sand. HA! HA! AT LAST USE! HA! HA! Funny. Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos of our beginner’s mistake, we were too busy swearing.
Packing up is the order of the day
The next day the preparatory work for the un-launch of Milagros began. What you can do today, always (never) put off until tomorrow (a Swiss saying, interchange always and never at your own preference). Choose to live by “always” on a boat, and you’re screwed. So, we started cleaning up Milagros and stocking up on anything we no longer needed. The dinghy was left out since it was filled with sand and seaweed. HA! HA! We decided to cover the short, almost one-hour passage to the marina using only the engine. We had sailed enough for now. So, we took down the jib and the mainsail. Theres definitely more fun things to do than folding massive sails in a small space. We could have lowered the sails in the marina, but we felt safer doing it on the water at anchor so Milagros could move around as she pleased.
Dry dock is just around the corner
And then, the next day, it was time. Milagros had to get out of the water again. Poor big baby! For the first time in more than 10 years she had been on the road again for a longer period of time. What a fine boat she is! After our huge renovation, she caused us practically no problems. We’ve lived comfortably in her belly and she’s taken us all the way down and halfway up the Sea of Cortez, showing us time and time again that she’s made for exactly what we need her for. Being on the move. But now it was time for a break. And it wasn’t Milagros that needed it, we did. We were looking forward to having solid ground under our feet again for a while.
Around the corner and out of the water
The trip to the dry dock was easy. We still knew the entrance to San Carlos from our crossing with Carmen and Iñaki on Anila. Since we take turns for each passage, this time it was my turn to dock Milagros. The crossing around the corner was easy, we could probably have sailed it, too. But that was kinda difficult to do without having any sails mounted. So, we motored to Marina San Carlos. We thought we were well prepared, after all we had been there before. We also studied the satellite map of the marina in OpenCPN to find our way around.
Still, there were stressy moments involved. The marina in San Carlos was a lot narrower than I remembered and when it looked on the map I didn’t know exactly where to turn to get to the dock for the crane. Greg, with whom we had arranged to catch a line, wasn’t there on time either. That was quite stressful for me in this small space, so it was convenient that an end tie was free where we could moor briefly to get an overview. Once Greg arrived and we knew where to go, everything went like clockwork. Undock, dock again. Everything worked really well! Nevertheless, as soon as things get confusing, cramped, and stressful, we realize that we still have a looooot of to learn and a looooot of experience to gain.
Crime is rearing its ugly head
Unfortunately, Mexico showed its ugly side again. In the days leading up to our arrival, someone was shot right at the bar by the marina. A video circulated showing people lying on the ground in the bar while could be heard in the parking lot next door. As we learned, the cartels are more active in the off-season. As soon as the tourists (Americans) reappear en masse, the cartels withdraw again. After all, they don’t want to drive away their main source of income.
And then it was time
Then it was time. The workers from Marina Seca, where we wanted to store Milagros, showed up on time. No time was wasted, and Milagros was placed on the lift. This was not a crane with slings like at the Cabrales Boatyard, but a trailer that used hydraulic arms to lift the boats. When Milagros was positioned, she was pulled out of the water. After short detour to the streets of San Carlos, she was shortly thereafter placed at her spot in the Marina Seca of San Carlos.
Hiding from the heat
We were back at the boatyard. Time moves fast. Luckily this time our stay at the yard would be short. Thank god we had bought the air conditioner from Marga in Santa Rosalia. It was sweltering in San Carlos. We still had a little time to prepare, so we took it easy. We only worked when we felt like it and hid in the refrigerated cabin when the heat go too much.
The to-do list
The list was long:
- Clean the hull and underwater hull and remove any fouling and salt
- Wash the deck and railing
- Clear and clean the bilge
- Sort and give away leftover food
- Search all spice, flour, oatmeal, and other containers for residents and dispose of them if necessary
- Clean the refrigerators
- Lower the anchor and chain and rinse with fresh water
- Lay out the sails again and carefully fold and stow them away
- Clean up our flooded dinghy
- Mark and loosen the rigging
- Fill diesel tanks and treat diesel against fouling and diesel bugs
- Oil change for Burrito combined with a freshwater rinse
- Change the oil on the outboard engine, flush with fresh water and empty the petrol tank
- Buy and fit sunshade fabric to protect the deck from UV rays
- Treat as many surfaces as possible with vinegar to prevent mold
And so on and so forth – we had more than enough to do.
Excursion to Guaymas
Of course, there had to be a bit of fun between all the work. Of course, since we had to take a look at our sister ship Nada Mas, we paid our new friends a visit at the Fonatur Marina in Guaymas. Right next to it, a small festival with music, carnival and food stalls took place in the evening. So, we rallied at Joseph and Michelle’s (impeccably beautiful) SV Soul Rebel and afterwards enjoyed drinks and churros at the festival site on the Malecon (the waterfront) of Guaymas. Of course, a visit to the trusted taco stand was a must. It was an all-round successful and fun evening.
Milagros is forced to take a summer break
Back on the hot boatyard, after a few days of hot and sweaty work, it was done. Milagros was prepared for her summer break. If she could talk, she would certainly have complained. “What’s that, you jerks? I want to get back on the water! Saaaiilll! Nooooww!” Luckily, we were able to move her to the storage yard without any loud complaints from her side. She was put to dozens of other boats, many of which must have had no water around their keels for years and years. It’s impressive how much money is lying around unused everywhere. We could never in good conscience simply abandon a boat to its fate in the desert. We’d rather give it away for free. A quick all-round view, final checks, lock the boat, cover her up. Done, this is it!
Our first cruising season is over
Our first season as cruisers is over. We just lived on a boat in Mexico for a year and a half. We have laughed, cried, cursed, rejoiced, and learned. And we knew in advance that it would be a life of ups and downs. But we couldn’t have imagined that it would be such a roller coaster. What remains is a storm of memories. We can take so much with us from these one and a half years. New friends, new skills, new experiences, magnificent memories. And the knowledge that Milagros is waiting for us and that she’s ready. Now we’re finally heading home to greenery and cool(er) climate. In November we’re heading back to Mexico. And then we’ll see what else might come up. But first, let’s finally go home!
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