Lessons Learned and Memories Made

As I write these lines we are already back in beautiful Switzerland. It’s good to be home again. We ended the season with a highlight – Milagros looks like new! Her deck has been painted. But as in Mexico, even here in Switzerland, we are not spared from trouble. After a stressful and exhausting last minute preparation marathon for our journey back home, Facebook exploded with bad news upon our arrival back in Switzerland. But first things first…

It was slowly getting hot in Guaymas. And not just a little hot. We were sitting in a sweltering heat like we’ve probably never experienced before. The thermometer reached 40 degrees Celsius practically every day. And then there was the intensity of the sun, too. During the day we mostly hid in the coolness of the air conditioning in a small apartment we had rented for a couple of weeks. We didn’t want to stand on the feet of the painters working on our deck all the time and wanted to let them do their jobs.

Working in the Guaymas heat

The two painters David and Raul suffered from the heat, we could tell. When it got really hot, the pace of her work slowed noticeably. We can’t blame them. The work in the Guaymas oven is brutal. Drinking regularly, taking a break in the shade and not overdoing it was the way to go for them. Sometimes we almost had a guilty conscience towards the two.

Things are going well

But we could see: Something really impressive was on the way! The deck was the final piece in the puzzle for Milagros to become a little masterpiece. Our boat will appear completely transformed. Days and days of fairing and sanding work resulted in perfect surfaces. It’s laborious work but pays off in the end when painting. We ourselves would not have faired and sanded as much as the painting crew. But we didn’t do the work ourselves in the end so all we could do is shut up and watch.

Small projects

Apart from sitting around comfortably in the air conditioning, we also took care of smaller boat projects. For example, our new propeller shaft brake had arrived. The little piece of equipment should prevent us from bending our shaft again in the future. A shaft brake prevents the propeller from spinning freely while sailing. This results in much less stress on the material and less noise.

We also gave our teak a little love. We carefully washed it, lightened it and then oiled it. All with a practical 3-piece teak care set. Worked out great, and the result is really pretty.

Bigger projects

And at some point, the time had come: the first layer of paint was put on the deck! This in the form of a two-component epoxy resin primer, sealing and strengthening the surface. Because it consists of two components, the paint and a hardener, the paint layer is extremely strong. It will protect the old fiberglass of Milagros. After the job was done, we got a first impression of what Milagros would look like with the new paintjob. The white surface literally blinded our eyes. A great moment.

Hot, hot, hot, hot

And what came after the primer? Well, guess. The whole boat was again coated with putty and sanded. For days on end. At up to 47 degrees Celsius (116 °F) air temperature. We were getting tired of the heat. We can only imagine how the painting crew must have felt. Our foster cat Sailor was suffering too, panting when he met us for his food in the evenings. The heat in Guaymas is crazy. Time that we could finally go home. But we couldn’t. Not until our deck was finished. And what’s better than a cold beer to cool down?

Tasty craft beer just around the corner

As always in our blog posts and sailing career, beer is involved. The owner of the boatyard in Guaymas opened a Cervezeria right next to the boatyard with his brother (or so, I don’t remember exactly). Craft beer from Cervezeria Fauna is served there. Of course, we couldn’t miss the opening night. We sat there for hours with Tom and Keith (we met them back in the kingdom of El Mero) and tasted our way through the range of different cervezas. The Boatyard employees were there too, it was a cozy get-together.

Color layers and window delights

The days that followed passed as the ones before did. We passed the mornings working on our computers in the cool apartment we had rented for two weeks. In the evening we headed out into the heat to pay Milagros her daily visit. More layers of paint had been added onto Milagros in the meantime. The cabin was already done! So finally, we could devote ourselves to another monster project. In a moment of weakness, we decided to unmount, completely dismantle, rebedd and reinstall all the windows on Milagros again. Sounds good, but omfg. What a huge freaking job.

A monster of a project

Many a boat owner shies away from this very project. Rightly so. The window project really called for every skill we had learned since purchasing Milagros. I could write an entire blog post about the work on our windows alone. Here is a small excerpt of the work steps:

– Remove the windows

– Take a close look at everything

– Assess what needs to be done

– Find much more work than originally planned

– Seal and smear everything with fiberglass and epoxy

– Clean, drill, Dremel, sand the fiberglass and epoxy

– Clean the frames from a collection of old filler, putty and grout from over 40 years of Milagros

– Have new windows made

– Have everything made and corrected three times until it fits, because Mexico

– Ask yourself «why?»

– Glue the panes into the window frames in a huge mess

– Glue the fitted panes in the window frame, add those to another window frame

– Screw the frames in the frames tight together, add more sealant for yet another mess

– Before reinstalling the windows in the cabin walls, test EVERY ONE of the 100 screws and mark which one their screw hole is, because nothing fits like it did before

– Scream out loud

– Tear your hair (if you still have some)

– In an intermediate step, adapt window frames that do not fit to the windows with some more fairing

– Fit the window frames into the cabin wall with some more sealant in another monstrous mess

– Notice that it is too hot and the sealant dries too quickly

– Come back later

– Keep on sealing like crazy

– Be disturbed by the cat at the dumbest moment

– Just keep going because Sailor is a sweetheart

– Keep messing around all over the place until the job is done

Just like that

That’s pretty much how we remember the procedure. We don’t want to go into any further details here. We’re just glad it’s done. Woe betides a drop of water straying through the windows into our cabin in the future. At some point we were done and we couldn’t have done better. Not because we’re convinced that our job is perfect, but because we simply don’t know if we could have done it any better. Should you be reading this, own a boat and you are considering whether you want to tackle your windows: Think twice. Or maybe even thrice.

Milagros looks like new

And once our windows were in, the painters were soon done too: The deck paintjob was done. And what can we say? Our dear boat looks like new. The new deck paint makes a huuuuuuuge difference. David and Paul really did a great job. Unfortunately, bad news were just around the corner. Problems with our new prop shaft!

We cannot thank those two troopers enough!

Oh crap!

When Salomon from the metal workshop arrived at the boatyard with the object of desire, it quickly became clear: There was a problem. The shaft bearing and the new shaft brake did not fit over the shaft. There was only one thing that could help: the prop shaft had to be taken back to the workshop and made to fit. Shortly afterwards the message came that a whole piece of stainless steel had to be ordered. A worker had simply removed too much material from the shaft in the workshop (2/1000 in instead of 1/1000 in!!!). After we had waited and waited and waited for weeks. Oh dear Mexico, sometimes you’re just a little too much for us. Now we can only take care of the shaft again when we return in winter.

We need to get outta here

Slowly the loooong season began to gnaw at our morale again. Too much heat, too much waiting, too much boatyard, too much boat work. Normally, early in the season, sailors spend a couple of weeks preparing their boats so they can head out as soon as possible when they return. We have spent too much time working on the boat this season. Yes, Milagros is in better shape than ever – but we’ve heard a few times that our working/sailing time ratio is completely out of control. Yes, this season was not easy. But our Swiss perfectionism simply doesn’t allow it any other way sometimes. Next season we will be sailing an absolute gem of a boat. Slowly but surely it was time to stow away Milagros and take a break again.

Mexican party

But before we flew home, there was another celebration in order. And this time, things got really Mexican. We were invited to the birthday party of boatyard employee and crane operator Mario. The event took place shortly before we left in an event hall he had rented for the evening. The two of us, our Australian friends Jen and Cam and about 50 Mexicans joined the party, which started cautiously. Everyone sat at their tables and listened to the warm-up band, a rock cover band made up of Mario’s friends. Armed with freezers and beer supplies, of course. The foreigners were eyed curiously from all sides.

Baila, Baila, Baila

It only really got going when cumbia, classical Mexican music, was put on. Everyone jumped out of their chairs and danced and danced and danced. To everyone’s surprise, the «Gringos» were also taking part in the dancing. The “DJ crew” was made by two dudes on drum sets with all kinds of kettledrums and other drumming equipment, who played along with the music from the speakers. With increasing beer consumption, the fear of contact disappeared and so we took all kinds of funny photos with the guests present. The evening was once again a reminder of what a great people the Mexicans are. Muchas Gracias!

A travel lift ride with consequences

Then it was soon time to move Milagros to their summer location. However, the changeover of locations did not go without damage to Milagros. I’ll spare you the details for now – we already reported on how we were treated by the yard in the last blog post. It shouldn’t get any better. And it won’t get any better in the future either. I can only say this much: We have definitely been to this boatyard for the first and last time. Despite advance warnings from various quarters, we decided to visit – and skilfully stepped in a pile of c***. We only have ourselves to blame. More on that another time.

The end is near

Because the work on our deck (did I notice that it turned out freaking AWESOME?) took a few weeks longer than expected, we had to cut all the preparatory work for the departure, which lasted about two weeks last time, into a few days. It turned out quite stressful. The day before we left, we worked our asses off from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. just to get it done, after more prep work in the days before. The almost 30-hour return journey back home to Switzerland went smoothly. Time to clear your heads and gather anticipation for your return.

Bad news upon arrival

But as soon as we got home, we had to start worrying again. Facebook and WhatsApp are our main sources for all sailing related news from Mexico. And what did we see? As soon as we left, an impressive and violent storm swept over Guaymas and San Carlos in Mexico. The area is known for raging summer thunderstorms called Chubascos. But this time, things were different. In videos and photos, we saw a wall of wind and dust battering the region. Absurd wind speeds were measured everywhere, power went out, entire brick walls collapsed in the boatyard and more of the aging boatyard electric posts bit the dust and fell over.

And what about Milagros?

Fortunately, Milagros escaped unscathed, she weathered the storm well. But unfortunately bad news also reached us from other sailor friends. The kingdom of El Mero, for example, is no more. It was completely destroyed in the storm. Unfortunately, some friends’ boats were also affected when their dock lines failed and they were washed ashore. Elsewhere, some boats in dry dock have tipped off their stands. We hope for their owners that the damage is manageable.

What’s next?

Well, apparently we’re not spared any frightening moments at the other end of the planet either. That’s the way it is when you embark on an adventure like ours. Why we were more concerned in this case than the last times, we will tell in the next blog post. But for now, it’s time to recharge the sailboat batteries in Switzerland so that we can start another attempt towards the south with fresh motivation. Only the gods of the sea know how far we will come. Things happen all the time.

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1 Comment

The boat looks great! Hopefully the PTSD of it all has worn off and your time in Switzerland is renewing you both! So sorry to hear about our friends at El Mero and the demise of the docks. But, very to happy to know Milagros was not affected. All the best to you both.

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