The Last Gringos: A Voyage to Beginnings

We embarked on a journey to the very place where our adventure started. It’s where we plunged into the frigid waters, emerging stronger, and where we intimately acquainted ourselves with every nook and cranny of our boat. Our destination? The quaint town of Puerto Peñasco.

The Chewed Gum Conundrum

First, let’s rewind a bit. Our setting is Guaymas, in the midst of the bustling boatyard, where our spirits were dampened by prolonged frustrations. The anticipated three-week stay had overstretched, turning the drive shaft project into a relentless ordeal, akin to an over-chewed piece of gum – tough and lacking any semblance of pleasure. David had mentioned in his latest blog post about our urgent need for new engine mounts. Fortunately, we swiftly located a supplier, though the delivery was less than swift.

Batteries and Breakthroughs

On a brighter note, we achieved a significant milestone: the successful installation and commissioning of our new lithium batteries, specifically lithium iron phosphate ones. This task was not without its tedium, necessitating meticulous testing of each battery before installation. The advantages, however, were numerous: significantly reduced size and weight, deeper discharge capabilities, and no daily full charging required. To illustrate, our three former AGM batteries collectively tipped the scales at 210 kg (460 lbs) with a usable capacity of 380 Ah out of 765 Ah. In contrast, our trio of new lithium batteries weighs a mere 66 kg (145 lbs) while offering a usable capacity of 410 Ah out of 510 Ah – a remarkable improvement.

A Humorous Tale with Batteries

We experienced a rather amusing incident involving our batteries. Prior to our summer hiatus, we purchased from fellow sailors, Coy and Kalina, two batteries which they had only used for a few months. However, during our testing phase, one of the batteries exhibited unexpected behaviour. We promptly informed Coy about the issue, and he planned to file a warranty claim with Renogy. As we had not received any updates from him during our stay in Switzerland, we decided to order a new battery. Coincidentally, there was a promotional offer: ‘buy one, get a second at 50% discount’, prompting us to buy two batteries instead of one.

An Abundance of Batteries

Shortly after our purchase, Coy sent us an image of the brand-new replacement battery he received through the warranty claim. This was a pleasant surprise. Further, we later discovered that the ‘faulty’ battery was, in fact, in good working condition. Thus, we unexpectedly found ourselves with a total of five batteries, whereas we initially wanted only two. Fortunately, serendipity played its part when another sailor in the boatyard expressed a need for two lithium batteries. Hence, two of our excess batteries found a new home just a couple of boats away.

Revived and Resplendent

Master painter David, responsible for our deck’s fresh coat, also remedied some paint damage on the freeboard caused by the Travelift’s straps and another mysterious source. The result? Milagros was now gleaming, arguably the most stunning vessel in the vicinity, a sentiment we proudly shared.

Quest for an Outboard Engine

While awaiting engine parts, we ventured to Puerto Peñasco for an outboard motor. In May, we had seized the opportunity to replace our ailing inflatable dinghy with a more robust plastic sailing dinghy. This upgrade offered numerous benefits: lighter weight, no air loss, easier rowing, and sail capability. However, its lightness meant limited stern weight capacity. Our trusty 4 HP four-stroke, weighing nearly 30 kg (60 lbs), was too hefty, prompting the need for a lighter alternative. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a perfect fit in Peñasco: a 13 kg (29 lbs), 3.3 HP two-stroke.

An Unplanned Road Trip

The dilemma was transporting the outboard motor 600 km back to Guaymas. Thus, we decided to retrieve the outboard ourselves. Joined by Pete from SV Swan Song, awaiting his deck’s painting, we embarked on an impromptu road trip, armed with snacks and tunes.

Dodging Potholes

Opting for toll roads to avoid the infamous potholes of the alternative route – rumored to be 5 m (15 ft) wide and 2 m (7 ft) deep – we successfully navigated around the lesser but still treacherous potholes off the toll roads.

A Whirlwind of Activities

David, adept at securing Airbnbs, found us delightful beachside accommodation, which unexpectedly got upgraded to a beachfront house. Though our time to bask in this luxury was limited, given our jam-packed schedule: picking up the outboard, reuniting with old friends, showing Pete around, indulging in the finest Pastor Tacos, and more, all within less than 24 hours.

A Fortuitous Turn

Our afternoon arrival in Puerto Peñasco, followed by the collection of the outboard and check-in, was met with an intriguing proposition by the landlord. Originally planning to return to Guaymas the next morning, his offer to extend our stay for free, due to sparse tourism, was an unexpected boon. This stroke of luck for us, though unfortunate for the locals, was a result of a recently closed border crossing north of Puerto Peñasco.

The Quiet Town

The border guards there had been withdrawn to assist with surging asylum claims from refugees from Central and South America and African countries like Eritrea, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Cameroon. This shift, following the repeal of Trumps ‘Title 42’ in May, reinstated the right to asylum procedures for those setting foot on US soil.

Extended Leisure

With the beach, restaurants, and city almost to ourselves, we decided to indulge in an extra night. After all, there was ‘nothing’ pressing back on Milagros. A quick call extended our car rental, making the extra day possible.

Familiar Faces and Fond Memories

Back at the Cabrales Boatyard, we were greeted by more familiar faces than anticipated. Our encounters spanned numerous sailors, each exchange filled with stories and updates since we left Peñasco in February 2022. The camaraderie and sense of community were palpable, almost overwhelming in its warmth.

A Sense of Home

The boatyard, with its familiar faces, favourite eateries, and overall ambience, evoked a sense of home. In the spirit of being in the shrimp capital, we procured a kilo from our trusted fishmonger, planning a garlic butter feast for dinner, much to Pete’s anticipation.

The Last Gringos

Our day unfolded with moderate culinary delights, the world’s best donuts from Candy Cake, a serene beach stroll, and a visit to the deserted Malécon. The closed border had rendered Puerto Peñasco a ghost town, a situation we found appealing yet bittersweet for the locals. An encounter with a local, who jokingly dubbed us ‘the last gringos’, led to a heartfelt conversation about the prevailing uncertainty. He and his girlfriend, working in a pharmacy and a restaurant, respectively, were directly affected by the downturn. His parting offer of a significant discount on medicines and sunglasses was both generous and telling of the situation.

The Shrimp Fiasco

Our afternoon snack at Pane y Vino, boasting Mexico’s finest Pizza Margherita, preluded our evening plans. Aftera farewell drink on SV Lodos and a visit to SV Liquid we went back to our beach house for the shrimp dinner.

Unfortunately, the shrimps’ odd smell, initially dismissed by the crew, turned out to be a tell-tale sign of spoilage, confirmed by an unpleasant ammonia scent upon cooking. The meal was a bust, but the seagulls reaped the benefits of our misfortune. Thankfully, our earlier snack lessened the disappointment.

A Satisfying Conclusion

Our final day began with a return to the boatyard, heartfelt farewells, and a last indulgence in Candy Cake’s Apple Fritters. Our timely return of the rental car in Guaymas and some yummy pastor tacos marked the end of a memorable and largely successful excursion, a reminder that sometimes, things indeed fall pleasantly into place.

Let’s toast to this successful mission. You can buy 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!

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