We’re back in Guaymas and diving into work. After ending our sailing season early this year, we wanted to treat ourselves and Milagros to something nice. Well, more for Milagros than for us because life at the boatyard is no treat. 😉
With mixed feelings, we were back in the kingdom of El Mero. We were excited to be back in Guaymas – it felt a bit like coming home. But the fact that we were there reminded us once again that we had actually set sail from there ‘forever’ in February but now we were back. There was still a lingering feeling of somehow having failed, even though we had consciously decided to turn back and were okay with it. What do success and failure even mean – especially in the sailing world – and who defines them?
Isn’t success about reaching somewhere safe and having a good time, no matter where you are? Or are we just trying to make ourselves feel better about the fact that we’re now in Mexico and not in Costa Rica or Panama? However you may look at it: we were back, and we were getting Milagros ready for haul-out, knowing that we would be missing out on the best time to be in the Sea of Cortez. But we had plans, and our motto was: No better time than the present.
Picking up an order
One of the first things we did in Guaymas was to pick up an order we had placed with the universe some time ago: a new dinghy. More specifically, a lightweight Walker Bay plastic rowing boat that could also be sailed or powered by an outboard motor. Two sailors in nearby San Carlos wanted to get rid of this sought-after model at an attractive price, and fortunately, we were the first interested buyers. Our huge, heavy inflatable dinghy had been getting on our nerves for quite some time. We were even considering buying boat building plans online and building our own fiberglass dinghy at the boatyard. But that was no longer necessary.
First sailing steps
Dan helped with the transport our new 8-foot-long acquisition to El Mero with his truck. We immediately assembled the dinghy, and I had the honor of going on yet another maiden voyage and sailing it back to Milagros. I had never sailed such a small sailboat before, but the physics of sailing are always the same, and we had learned docking maneuvers under sail on Lake Thun. So, I was able to dock at Milagros and handed over the tiller to David. He also took a few rounds in the anchorage. That was even more fun than expected!
Some sailing fun
Anja and Thomas, two Swiss sailors currently renovating their boat at Marina Guaymas, also stopped by to sail the little boat. Alternating, we zipped around in El Mero with winds reaching up to 4-5 Beauforts. Unfortunately, a previously patched weak spot on the rudder broke again. But then, we rolled up our sleeves and fixed the issue on the spot. In the process, we learned something new: when mixed together, super glue and baking soda create a super-strong adhesive that can even stick to plastic.
It gets complicated
While we anchored in El Mero, we had another mission. The biggest project we wanted to tackle was renewing Milagros’ deck. We had already received a quote from a local painter, but a few days before hauling out at Marina Guaymas, we found out that we had been missing some crucial information. It turned out that this painter was considered an external worker by Marina Guaymas, which would have resulted in a daily fee of between 35 and 50 USD. Since the sanding and painting work would take up to 6 weeks, this would have meant an additional 1,500 USD in unnecessary costs. So, we had to find another man for the job. Luckily, we found one quickly: David (yes, he has the same name), the house painter of Marina Guaymas, had availability and could start immediately. The best part was: his reputation is excellent. Gentlemen, start your sanding machines!
Not doing it ourselves?
If you’re wondering why we are not doing do this work ourselves, it’s not that we couldn’t—we’ve been through the whole process before with the hull. But because of that, we knew exactly what to expect. That’s why we’re willing to spend the money and focus on other projects in the meantime.
One last adventure
The last trip of the season with Milagros turned out to be quite adventurous. It took about 45 minutes from El Mero to reach the haul-out area. Tim from SV Coconut accompanied us to help with the lines. In the Marina Guaymas office, we had to provide our draft of 6’6”, and based on that, they had given us our haul-out appointment. So, we assumed that the entire route would be navigable for us at that time. We knew that the water wouldn’t be very deep in the last third of the route, so we followed a safe passage marked in the navigation software, which other sailors we know had already followed. Our depth sounder is set to water depth, so when we see 15 ft, we still have 8 ft under the keel.
As we followed this safe route, we watched the depth sounder very closely. When it showed 10 ft, we started to get quite nervous. Then the reading kept dropping: 9 ft, 8 ft, 7.5 ft. Mentally, we were already preparing to get stuck. Luckily, the tide was rising, so in the worst case, we would have had to wait. But we believed that the water was deep enough. Why else would they give us this haul-out appointment?
Milagros takes flight again
As we entered the narrow haul-out slip, the depth sounder showed 6’6” (2 meters) – so there was no “hand’s width of water left under the keel” (which in German sailing language is used as an expression comparing to “Fair Winds”). In theory, we had run aground with Milagros. The crane was already ready, and we had to “simply” remove the forestay, which turned out to be a bit more challenging than expected. This front mast support had to be removed because the crane has a U-shape, and we are at the upper limit of the crane’s length with our boat. That is definitely a disadvantage compared to Cabrales Boatyard in Puerto Peñasco. Their crane is significantly larger, so you don’t have to remove any stays.
When Milagros was standing on stands at her new location, it was clearly visible that we had run aground, not just theoretically. We officially ran aground with Milagros for the first time! We hadn’t noticed anything; the keel had simply ploughed into the mud. When David brought our boat documents to the office afterward, he mentioned what had happened. After looking at the tide table, it quickly became clear what had happened. They had given us the wrong haul-out time! We had trusted that they knew what they were doing because hauling out is their daily business. They had also asked us several times for our exact draft. Once again, we learned that you have to use your brain yourself.
Here we go
Shortly after our arrival at the dry dock, the sanding work on the deck began. We took this opportunity to remove all the portholes. What we uncovered underneath confirmed that we were doing the right thing. The deck consists of a fiberglass-plywood-fiberglass sandwich. It is crucial to prevent moisture from penetrating the plywood because that would cause the wood to rot and compromise the stability of the structure. So, the wood must not be exposed anywhere. However, the wood had not been sealed where the porthole openings were cut. It was also evident that the sealant had failed at one window, allowing moisture to seep in. It was high time to seal everything. Again, no better time than the present. It also seemed like we were the first ones to remove these windows in Milagros’ 45 years of existence.
A new propeller shaft
Being on the boatyard for us meant: On your marks, get set, start the projects! We wanted to get as much done as possible now so that we could quickly leave the boatyard in the fall. Besides the deck, we had two main tasks: installing a new propeller shaft and adding a new UV cover to the headsail. First, we wanted to remove the presumably bent shaft so that we could get quotes for a new one. However, the propeller wouldn’t budge an inch. It wasn’t until the fourth attempt, after WD40, PB Blaster, heat, blows, and with the third propeller puller and a bit of luck – David happened to find a perfectly fitting part on the ground next to the boat – that we finally managed to remove it. We are curious to hear what the mechanics will say about the condition of our shaft…
The sewing workshop is open
For the new UV cover on the headsail, we were able to borrow Tom’s Sailrite industrial sewing machine in exchange for some beer. Keith, a sailor from El Mero, delivered the machine from Arizona, where it had been waiting for its next use somewhere in a dark corner for a few years. The Marina Guaymas kindly provided me with a room that I could transform into my sewing workshop for the following weeks. To prepare for the big project, I started with smaller tasks. The sail kit of our dinghy got a new storage bag, a lost hatch cover was replaced, and a new cockpit cushion was sewn. And just for the fun of it, I sewed some beautiful bags out of a former light wind sail.
If you would like to have such a bag, feel free to contact me.
We are slowly but surely getting into the boatyard flow, and one project after another can be checked off. That’s how we like it!
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