We are back with Milagros in Mexico and wake her up from her summer hibernation. Claudia, a friend from Switzerland, comes to visit and help us. From experience we expect the worst with all the work ahead of us. Will our fears come true?
Before we left Switzerland, things got a bit hectic for a moment. The reason was a back problem that had been bothering David for some time. At times it was so bad that he could hardly walk. An MRI examination then brought light into the darkness: a ruptured intervertebral disc was pressing on the sciatic nerve in his left leg. So, for a while it was unclear whether we could fly back to Mexico in November. However, an appointment with a spinal surgeon (a sailor) and a pain specialist (also a sailor) two weeks before our departure, as well as physiotherapy, led to the decision that nothing stood in the way of the start to our second season.
We are back in Mexico
The 29-hour journey to Mexico was more or less uneventful. The only unusual thing was that after our arrival in Hermosillo we were stopped by some officials who wanted to see our passports. We were then taken to a separate waiting area where we had to hand over our mobile phones. But after a quick check of our passports and a brief discussion between two officers (we didn’t know what exactly was going on), they let us go again.
When we went to collect our luggage, only one of the two pieces had arrived. A friendly gentleman referred us to another gentleman where we could file a lost luggage claim. According to the computer system, our luggage was still in Europe and would simply arrive one day later in Mexico.
When we arrived at the Marina Seca office in San Carlos a few hours later, the office workers looked at us with big eyes. They thought we would only arrive a week later. Funnily enough, we weren’t surprised at all – we had kind of expected this to happen. But we were promised that Milagros would be ready for us 2 hours later. So, we walked to the port and enjoyed our first beer in Mexico. Just at the moment we arrived back at the boatyard, we saw Milagros passing by on the trailer. And a person who looked very familiar to us followed the boat and pointed to it. It was Ron from Mar de Luz, whom we had met in June on the open sea on our way to Santa Rosalia.
What will she have in store for us?
We got a ladder at the entrance and walked a little nervously to Milagros. I wondered what would be waiting for us? Dead batteries? Rats or other vermin? Holes from corrosion in the diesel tanks? Water damage from the hurricane if there were leaks? We removed all the covers, opened the boat and took a deep breath. It smelled exactly as it should – like Milagros. No mould, no smell of decay, no diesel – nothing. Relieved, we quickly opened a few floorboards. No water, no rat droppings, no dead cockroaches – nothing. We briefly check the battery charge, which was also fine. In some spices we found a few dead weevils, which is not uncommon here in Mexico. All in all: no nasty surprises!
The jet lag was a bit annoying at first – being wide awake at 3am when the sun doesn’t rise until 6am. On the second morning, I got up briefly around 4am to grab a charging cable for one of the one thousand electronic devices we carry onboard. Suddenly the boat shook for a few seconds. When David woke up, he asked me what I had done in the front of the boat that made it shake like that. But I thought he must have very, very violently turned in his sleep. But it turned out to be a magnitude 6 earthquake, the first earthquake I have ever consciously experienced.
It’s not easy again
We quickly settled back in and everything felt very familiar again very quickly. Now we could start to wake Milagros up and prepare her for the upcoming trip. There were a few things that absolutely had to be done on dry dock, such as replacing the toilet flush thru hull valve on board. As we were about to tackle this project, we briefly encountered a first letdown. We had already ordered the supposedly correct new plastic valve a year ago (which is required according to the toilet manufacturer). But we had done the math without the person who had installed the current bronze valve a size larger than necessary in the past. Accordingly, the hole in our hull was too big for the new valve. What a mess.
But since we still had spare parts for the bronze valve on board, we decided without further ado to replace “only” the defective valve and not the whole unit. That may or may not work, but we gave it a try. Armed with large tools, we tackled the old valve and, probably out of fear, it immediately gave way. And we were amazed. A boat project that “just” worked. Once again, we had worried unnecessarily. We had the new valve screwed on in no time. That was it.
Mending the freeboard
Another project was to add a black stripe at Milagros’ waterline. Sometimes yellowish-brown slime sloshed against the hull, which did not look nice on the white paint. We commissioned the painter Alejandro, who had already sprayed the freeboard of Iñaki’s and Carmen’s boat, to paint the waterline with a black stripe about 3 inch wide. He also patched up a few scratches in the paint left by our anchor chain in La Paz. Some workers in the boatyard ridiculed us for getting that fixed. But for us, there was so much work in that paint job – it just had to be done.
A few days after our arrival, Claudia arrived in Hermosillo after 5 weeks of travelling through the USA and Mexico. We picked her and our delayed luggage up at the airport by bus and taxi. She wanted to visit us for 3 weeks and we had already done some expectation management with her: there was a possibility that we would spend the whole 3 weeks at the boatyard. But she came by anyway. We were really looking forward to sharing life on Milagros with her.
A little faux pas
When we picked up our luggage at the airport in Hermosillo and opened it to check, everything was covered with a kind of sandy layer of dust. The webcam, the chocolate, all the clothes, just everything. It turned out that our 1 kg Herbamare (our favourite salt mix from Switzerland) refill had exploded. The entire 18 kg of clothes and equipment were now seasoned and garnished. Wow! Back at the boatyard, everything was quickly de-seasoned and taken directly to the Lavanderia, if possible.
We prepare Milagros
In the following days, we took care of other projects like changing the impeller – one of those projects that was supposed to take only 5 minutes but dragged on for days because two screws were corroded and so we had to remove the entire water pump. Claudia made sure that all our frayed lines had a nice finish again and installed an additional hatch in the cockpit. For our new mattress we made a template out of a piece of plastic cover, which we sent to the manufacturer to make sure the new mattress would fit.
An old trauma
We also made a few adjustments to the sail bag for the mainsail: Our very nice neighbours let us use their Sailrite sewing machine. So, we were able to remount both sails a short time later. Also, a long overdue adjustment of the reefing angle on the boom was finally implemented. We also started our problem child Burrito. Worry child my ass – Burrito started right up. Nevertheless, we seem to have suffered a little trauma from our past engine problems. Every time we start the engine, we expect something not to work. I wonder how long this will last.
We had optimistically planned the launch for the Monday about 2 weeks after our arrival. But when we looked at the wind conditions for that day and week, we weren’t so happy. The forecast predicted a lot of wind, and since we had to manoeuvre backwards in the narrow marina, we were looking for calm day. Wind from to our side would be even more unfavourable. So, we did everything we could to get into the water 2 days early.
Putting on an extra layer of antifouling on the hull in such short notice was a bit of a tight squeeze, but David and Claudia managed to splurge on a coat of Biocide successfully in a night time operation. In the meantime, I prepared my world-famous lasagne. And 24 hours later we were already anchored with Milagros off San Carlos. The launch went well: Ron from Mar de Luz helped us with the lines, Burrito started, we had no leaks on our thru hulls and there was no wind. Only the reverse manoeuvre turned out a bit hectic.
We are ready to go
We were happy to be back on the water in such a short time. Life in the boatyard is nothing compared to life on the water. Now we are looking forward to sailing with Claudia. We are curious to see how she will like it. What we can already say is that she finds washing up by hand just as annoying as we do.