The Snowball Effect


Guess what: As you read this blog post, we should already be out on the water. Regrettably, that’s not the case. Over the past four weeks, we’ve navigated through a busy period. While we’re actively gearing up for the upcoming sailing season, we’ve been met with a blend of challenges and enjoyable moments. True to form, a multitude of hurdles and surprises have presented themselves. Nevertheless, we have of course fully committed to once again embracing the vibrant Mexican way of life.


Now, it has been a full four weeks since we arrived. Our original plan was to limit our time in dry dock to a maximum of three weeks. We aimed to be back in the water a week ago. Did it happen? Of course not. As the saying goes, everything takes twice as long when you’re on a boat. We’re still actively engaged in preparing for the upcoming season. It’s the familiar dance of two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back.

We’re lacking motiviation

Upon our arrival, we took a week to unwind. We soaked up the sun, which was over 30°C warm, worked on our computers, and tidied up the boat. Our enthusiasm to return to Milagros was not at its peak. It’s not so much about Milagros herself – she’s now a radiant and beautiful sailboat with her brand new deck paintjob – but more about us. The last season was a mixed experience, and we simply cherish being at home everytime we’re there. We could have easily prolonged our stay in Switzerland by another three months. However, the flights were booked, and it was time to head back to Mexico.

Holà Mexico! We’re back!

Thus, we commenced our return at a leisurely pace. Initially, our task was to clear Milagros of all the dust and dirt that had accumulated on the deck. For the remaining time, we embraced relaxation and settled into our second home in Mexico. We fully immersed ourselves in vacation mode, enjoying social gatherings with friends such as Rob and Sarah on SV Mapache 2.0, savoring evening beers in the enchanting light of dusk.

A very special invite

As if we weren’t already in vacation mode, David the painter graciously invited us for an afternoon boat trip around Guaymas and San Carlos. Our good friend Pete, whom we had also hosted in Switzerland, joined the crew. Meeting up with the other David and his family outside the Oxxo next to the boatyard, armed with snacks and beer, we set off. Along the way, we came across a group of dolphins, and both Davids wasted no time in taking a refreshing dip in their jeans. The enjoyable moments continued to unfold!

Out with the old, in with the new

However, lazing around was not an option for us. We had a substantial to-do list, including two major projects, alongside the usual 8,000 smaller tasks that needed completion.

  • Our first major undertaking was to replace our old battery bank with a state-of-the-art lithium battery bank. The significant advantage of lithium batteries lies in their ability to discharge more, providing us with significantly more power at once.
  • The attempt to install a new propeller shaft had encountered setbacks during the summer, and now we had to persevere with this project.

Our focus shifted to the removal of the old batteries. Extracting three massive AGM batteries, each weighing approximately 60kg, from the engine room was no small feat. With this accomplished, we suddenly had half of the engine room available for innovative ideas. As depicted in the photos, I even contemplated transforming that space into my new cabin.

Everything takes longer as usual

Meanwhile, we were also dedicated to the shaft project. Our initial plan was to install the new propeller shaft in July. However, due to various setbacks and delays, the project had to be temporarily shelved. Fortunately, our dependable mechanic, Salomon, already had the new version in his workshop. Thus, it was just a matter of time until our new shaft could be installed. Or so we thought. Unfortunately, the new propeller shaft had to make three return trips to the workshop for additional adjustments, causing further delays. Finally, after these setbacks, we could direct our focus to the installation. Yet, even four weeks later, the installation remains incomplete.

The bent shaft is mind-bending

It’s another Sisyphean endeavor. We aim for perfection to avoid any future issues, and achieving this demands considerable mental effort and, inevitably, more time. Precise alignment of all bearings, seals, couplings, and the installation of our new shaft brake are essential tasks. As you might anticipate, progress seems to follow the pattern of two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back.

The snowball effect

The classic snowball effect reared its head once again in this scenario. Initially, our plan was to install a new self-aligning ball bearing. However, the onset of rust on the bearing after just three months of sitting around in the ship prompted a change of plans. We opted to go with the old plain bearing. That decision led us to an unwelcome revelation: the bearing was worn out and required recasting, with play measuring 0.2mm instead of the expected 0.04mm (!!).

Upon the installation of the newly cast bearing, another unpleasant discovery surfaced: we needed to replace and elevate the supports on our engine. This is the consequence of a more thorough examination necessitated by the shaft. The duration of this undertaking remains uncertain…

Partying the Mexican way

In addition to our work on computers and Milagros, we’re indulging in our usual enjoyment. For instance, we received an invitation to a typical Mexican house party. Painter David welcomed family and friends to unwind at his place. And unwind we did. The entire neighborhood resonated with the lively beats of “Tecnobanda” – two young women passionately drumming to pulsating Mexican music from colossal speakers. I was truly impressed by their skills and even had the opportunity to try it out, much to the amusement of the party. While my performance was decent, I couldn’t quite match the proficiency of the two girls, no matter how hard I tried. Respect!

Nico the little pirate

On a different evening, we took care of Nico, the son of Rendt and Marea on SV New Life. They were celebrating their anniversary and wanted a pleasant evening, so the not-so-little Nico stayed with us. We did our best to keep him entertained with our limited children’s gear. The highlight of the evening was the assortment of plush mascots that accompany us, most of which are gifts from our friends in Switzerland. We think we did a commendable job. The evening included pizza, drawing, playing with the stuffed animals, and writing cute letters to his parents.

We’re back in Mexico

And thus, the days swiftly passed, and we gradually reacclimated ourselves with Milagros in Mexico. We’re finding immense joy in working on and upgrading her. Virtually every nook has been fine-tuned, every space upgraded. Yet, new ideas for enhancements continue to emerge. Many of our friends suspect that we derive more enjoyment from tinkering than actual sailing. While that might hold some truth, we are still eagerly anticipating the moment when Milagros can finally embrace the water. She longs for a wet belly, and we’re determined to make it happen as soon as possible.

Yes, we’re well aware – once again, we find ourselves working instead of sailing. It’s just the way things are. If you’d like to add a touch of sweetness to our life on this dusty boatyard, you can buy us a beer with a simple click of the button! You can also become a monthly contributor by heading over to Patreon. Thanks a lot!

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