Before we left for Switzerland, we wanted to finish a few projects. We took care of the rudder, the mast and the painting of our topsides and mostly achieved partial success. We also fought our way through the Mexican jungle of bureaucracy. There is no such thing as “easy”.
Due to our planned “holiday” in Switzerland, we almost got into stress again because of the painting of the topsides. Just now, when we were ready, the weather was not. When Pancho had applied the primer, it was actually already too windy and too hot. But since it was “only” the primer, it didn’t really matter. But now we wanted to spray the first coat of topcoat – and that really depends on optimal conditions. Of course, the best thing would be to rent the paint booth, but for reasons that didn’t work out before we left. Since the primer is not UV-resistant, we really had to apply this first coat.
We kept watching the wind forecasts and then ordered Pancho for a morning that looked ok – not ideal, but not bad either. He was to start spraying at 6am, as the sun was not yet shining on the topsides and it was not yet too hot. In the 7 days that had passed since the primer was applied, we filled the last small holes and sanded the surface with 220 grit sandpaper. Then we washed the topsides with soap and water and waited for good weather.
Swiss mind trap
When the time came, we got up very early to put the plastic cover back on, wipe the topsides with a tack cloth and make the final preparations. When the church clock struck 6 (not really, because churches don’t do that here or we just don’t hear it), there was no Pancho. Probably Swiss mind trap again. 6 o’clock in the morning is 6 o’clock in the morning in Switzerland. In Mexico, it’s more of a guideline. But at 6.30am Pancho was there and ready for action. Just in time, because the sun was already starting to warm up the hull.
Will it succeed?
We were really nervous. We (especially Dave) had already invested so many hours in the topsides. Sanding, fairing, sanding, painting, sanding, fairing, sanding, painting, etc. The completion of this project was long overdue, but somehow something always came up – it was as if our topsides were jinxed. For example, when we were preparing the plastic covering to spray on the primer, there were gusts of up to 47 knots (about 90 km/h) that night. This tore the plastic in some places and Dave had to get up in the middle of the night to do damage control. Normally the wind does not blow so strongly at this time of year. Besides, we had opted for the inexpensive one-component paint and were therefore a bit worried whether the result would be convincing.
After an hour, Pancho had finished spraying. I couldn’t see the result because I stayed on the boat while spraying to assist from above. And I had to stay up there until the paint was dry enough and we dared to put the ladder back up. But Dave was very pleased with the result! Milagros shone like crazy and the surroundings were reflected in the surface.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who, now, is the fairest one of all?
Over the seven seas, beyond the seventh attempt,
in the yard of Puerto Peñasco, dwells Milagros,
fairest of them all.
We were going to take care of the many, many insects that were stuck in the paint and thought it was water after the paint had dried through. And when it rained briefly (which doesn’t really happen here at this time of year), the paint had fortunately dried sufficiently. Unfortunately, the wind picked up and blew the plastic into the paint in some places. This should not be a problem, as we will have to sand the surface again before the next coat of paint. We will take care of these imperfections when we are back from Switzerland.
It is (not) noticeable
From afar, however, no one has noticed these imperfections. We have received congratulations from all over for the paint job. It stands out because it is really beautiful and shiny. And hardly any other boat in the boatyard shines as bright as our Milagros. Let’s see how long this paint stays so beautiful 😊 And Milagros finally doesn’t look shabby anymore. It’s really enjoyable to look at her again. We celebrated our success with a small but pleasant pool party. Two fellow cruisers invited the remaining Cabralians to their place in a local caravan park, where they were currently the only residents. Therefore, we had the pool all to ourselves.
New thru hull
We were able to (almost) cross another project off the list: One of the two new thru hulls – the one for the kitchen sink – has now been installed. We enlisted Marga‘s help for this, as we had great respect for drilling a hole in the hull and installing something so critical ourselves. If you don’t do it right, the boat can sink. Now that we know how to do it, we will install the second thru hull ourselves. Anyway. We could now connect the waste water hose from the sink to the new thru hull and close the last hole in the hull. Check.
The rudder is repaired
The rudder project also took two steps forward (and one back). We had decided that the rudder was still good enough for one season in the Sea of Cortez. Rebuilding the rudder now is just too much. Therefore, we closed the two inspection holes. To do this we glued in fibreglass plugs with epoxy, then sanded down a dent and sealed it with three layers of fibreglass mat.
When filling the exposed area on the rudder stock, we accidentally made epoxy foam. We were a little embarrassed to have made this rookie mistake after so many months. What had happened?
Chemistry for beginners
Epoxy is sensitive to temperature and volume. When the mixture catalyses, energy is released in the form of heat; a so-called exothermic reaction takes place in which the chemical bonds form and the resin hardens. The higher the ambient temperature and the volume of epoxy used, the greater the heat generated. If the epoxy layer is too thick, the ambient air is too warm or the previous layer has not yet cooled down, too much heat will be generated. Then bubbles and smoke form. In our case, the 3 factors came together and our work started to boil. So, we had to start anew.
Brute force – once again
There were still bolts and screws on our mast that wouldn’t come loose. Marga had the idea that we would meet at Milagros for beer and pizza on a Friday and take care of these recalcitrants. And we did, but only after beer and pizza. Late at night, Marga was highly motivated to break the will of these studs. Marc from SV Liquid provided two long metal tubes as levers. And lo and behold: 2 of the 3 bolts moved. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take care of the third one – it had a different diameter (for whatever reason) and – surprise – we didn’t have the right size. But at least two were loose now.
For the trip home, we wanted to make sure that our vaccinations would be accepted en route. Above all, we were concerned that the date of birth required by Switzerland was not on our certificate. To this end, we pursued two different approaches simultaneously.
A dead end
Approach No. 1 was to try to get confirmation of vaccination from a doctor. Salvador, the boatyard manager, gave us the contact details of a doctor in Peñasco. We sent him a short text with all the information we needed on the confirmation. Two days later we were able to pick up the letters. Maybe I made the mistake of asking how much it cost. However, the receptionist could not tell us. But when we looked at the letters, we almost had a stroke. They were from a plastic surgeon and contained spelling mistakes. One should have expected that at least the vaccine was spelled correctly. But it wasn’t. A little later I got the message that we had to come by again to pay. They wanted a whopping $ 80 from us! We refused and simply brought the letters back.
It gets complicated
Therefore, we tried to find another doctor. To do this, I called a clinic, which then referred us to the general hospital. We paid a visit to the hospital and were first sent to a guard by the pharmacist there, who then spoke to a doctor, who in turn referred us to another doctor two blocks away. There we sat in the waiting room and when it was our turn, we explained our situation to the doctor. Her suggestion was that we could go to the lab around the corner for an antibody test and then she could give us a medical certificate. And so, we went to the lab, which was closed at the time. Later I called them and found out that a test costs $ 75 and the result is available within 2 hours. We kept this info in mind.
Approach No. 2 was to try to get the digital certificate. The problem was that when we entered our number to download, an error message appeared. An employee of the boatyard supported us and phoned various authorities – unfortunately without success. In the end, she could only pass on the recommendation to contact the “Centro de Salud Urbano”. We did so and were referred to the “Centro para el Bienestar” by a very nice employee. There, the vaccination cards were being sorted and entered into the system. The assumption was that our documents had simply not been digitised yet and that they could perhaps do this quickly on site.
Back to the beginning
Our hopes were quickly dashed. The staff there were handling all sorts of vaccination cards that looked exactly like ours. We were told, however, that on the one hand they were quite behind in entering the data, but also that the system was generally not working at the moment. But we were assured that what we had in our hands was the official vaccination proof.
So, we had done everything we could without getting a reasonable result. Therefore, we decided to take it easy. All 56 million vaccinated Mexicans had “only” this paper, too. The biggest joke: we sent our Mexican vaccination certificates to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health on a trial basis and received the official Swiss vaccination certificate within 4 hours. Haha. All the trouble in Mexico was for nothing.
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