Hasta Not La Vista

Our stay at the Boatyard in Guaymas persists, marked by dust, noise, and toiling on Milagros. We grapple with technical challenges, inching towards Milagros’ imminent launch. Amidst this, we embark on adventures beyond the yard, assist fellow sailors with their projects, and celebrate Christmas.

The Boatyard Existence

Our tenure in the Boatyard extended beyond our initial plans, and we often found ourselves grappling with the challenges posed by the persistent dust, sand, noise, and an array of other discomforts. Faced with two options—either to succumb to frustration or to make the most of our situation—we oscillated between the two, sometimes sulking, sometimes embracing the circumstances. In a lighter vein, we volunteered to assist other sailors with their ventures, an ironic twist considering our list of pending tasks on Milagros. One such instance was joining Justine’s painting team.

Boat Painting Ventures

Our task was to paint her boat’s freeboard, a project that saw us applying sky blue paint, aesthetically pleasing but technically challenging. This wasn’t merely cosmetic paint, but a type designed for oil rigs, necessitating a thick, protective single coating that dried swiftly and hardened like rock. Achieving a smooth finish without visible streaks and lines proved challenging.

Consecutive Challenges

After multiple attempts, experimenting with various mix ratios, brush types, and contending with the elements like wind and sun, we triumphantly accomplished this task. Our team, self-dubbed the “Rig Pigs”, comprised David as the painter, Justine handling the final touches, and myself in a support role, proved to be a successful combination.

Material Acquisition

One morning, Keith arrived at our boat with the long-awaited engine mounts. Eager to start installing them, Keith had a different plan: “I brought these blocks, now come sailing with me.”

Return to El Mero

Dismissing half a day’s delay, we hastily prepared and joined Keith, along with Pete and Justine, heading to the former Kingdom of El Mero‘s remnants. We had spent time there last winter before a storm nearly destroyed it in July. And Keith had crafted two dock spots for his sailboats from left over materials.

Sailing Interlude

Launching Keith’s 54-foot boat, Aurora, proved tricky. We accidentally grazed a couple of crooked pillars while avoiding damage to ourselves over the boat. A solar panel was the only casualty. And when hoisting the sail, we had to improvise as the mainsail’s foot wasn’t secured properly, quickly fixing it with a rope.

Island Circumnavigation

With sails raised, our journey took us around a small island near Guaymas. Upon reaching the island’s leeward side, Justine took a spontaneous swim, relishing the cool waters. As we returned, we noticed all boats at El Mero tilted due to low tide. Opting to anchor offshore overnight, we encountered issues with a non-functioning anchor windlass and had to rely on guesswork for the anchor chain scope.

The Return to Shore

Keith, his daughter, and Tom stayed aboard while other cruisers helped us ashore. The next morning, we returned to El Mero to assist with docking. Hauling up the anchor by hand proved a good workout. A problem with Aurora’s gear lever required Keith to manually engage it from below deck, causing brief confusion with the boat moving backwards first. Despite the challenges, docking was successful.

Engine Room Endeavours

Back at the Boatyard, we dedicated ourselves to the installation of the engine mounts on our boat. Replacing three went smoothly, but the final one proved obstinate, its head snapping off in a hard-to-reach spot. After failing to drill it out over two days, we left it, resorted to epoxy, and drilled a new hole.

Motor Alignment Challenges

Next was engine alignment, where we hit another snag. I just couldn’t align it to the required precision of 1/1000″ (0.03 mm). Dismantling everything, I found the issue: dents on the surface of the shaft coupling, likely from a fall or a hit. After filing it carefully down, we managed to aligne the engine in an instant.

Fitting the Shaft Brake

Installing the shaft brake was next and another hurdle. This brake is crucial for preventing shaft rotation while sailing, a necessity due to our hydraulic gearbox. The process was arduous, but after much trial and error and a night’s rest, we successfully installed the brake, readying Milagros for launching.

Pre-Launch Preparations

With Christmas approaching, we hoped to spend it on water, but it was dashed by the yard’s schedule, delaying our launch until December 26. This gave us more time for preparations: testing the engine, applying antifouling, stocking up on diesel, gasoline, water, and provisions, and tidying up. We also enjoyed more time with Nicole and Pete. You might remember: Nicole from Switzerland visited us one year ago, now she’s visiting Pete.

Embracing Christmas

Christmas in Mexico is a vibrant affair, starting December 1st with traditional treats and drinks abound. We exchanged traditional delicacies with the boatyard workers, savouring Buñuelos from crane operator Mario and Champurrado from Roberto, while offering homemade Spitzbuben in return.

Our Christmas celebration was low-key, mainly video calls with family and friends and toasting with Nicole and Pete. We planned a barbecue and a movie night for Christmas Eve and a potluck with yard residents on Christmas Day.

The Anticipated Launch

With the launch imminent, we were apprehensive about the strong winds forecasted. The day of the launch arrived with challenging weather conditions, prompting us to reconsider. We didn’t feel confident to back out of the slip and turn the boat around with up to 20 kts in such tight quarterts. After much deliberation and a lack of conviction from various parties, we decided against launching in the gusty winds.

Rethinking Our Strategy

Determined to proceed, we requested the yard workers to lift Milagros and position her for a forward exit from the lift. This required removing first the forestay and then the backstay. This plan, too, had its share of drama: a hydraulic oil leak from the lift, but the staff assured us it was minor.

Launch Day Arrives

Finally, the next morning, Milagros was successfully launched. Walking under the lift, I felt a drop of hydraulic oil on my neck. But Milagros was in the water, all through-hulls dry, all systems functioning, and the engine started immediately. “Lines off!” We were finally moving.

Goodbye, Boatyard!

Leaving the Boatyard behind, we said goody bye, hopefully forever. Hasta not la vista! Memories of the dirt and toil began to fade within minutes, and soon it felt like we were never there. Peacefully, we sailed past Guaymas’ Malécon to a serene anchorage, closing the chapter of our Boatyard saga.

Cheers to the successful launch! If you want, you can celebrate with us by buying us a beer with a click on the button below. You can also become a monthly contributor by heading over to Patreon. Thanks a lot!

Read more

Leave a Reply