When Pleasure Ends In Drama

There’s a thin line between positive and negative. Highs and lows alternate and what seems really great suddenly goes down the drain. We have a special week behind us, which is peppered with high and low lights. Mexico also shows its beautiful and its dark side. It was a week like ying and yang.

The Sierra de Pinacate, Schuk Toak, in the El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve near Puerto Peñasco

We almost continued working on the boat that Sunday morning. But only almost. We got wind of a little excursion with Salvador Cabrales, the boss of the Cabrales Boatyard, to “Schuk Toak” (holy mountain) near Puerto Peñasco. So we dropped our boatwork plans and treated ourselves to the very first tourist program since our arrival in Mexico.

Schuk Toak

We gathered with a few other sailors and Salvador at the entrance gate on our side of the boatyard and grouped up into two rides. The trip led out of Puerto Peñasco to the “El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve”. The reserve is UNESCO world heritage. It lies in the Sonoran desert and extends over 714,566 hectares with a 354,871 hectare buffer zone. There are several impressive sights of natural origin to see.

Volcanology in the Sonora Desert

When driving through the desert, the first thing that caught the eye was the “Sierra Pinacate”. Shaped by volcanic and geological activity during the formation of the Gulf of California, mountain ranges up to 1,100 meters high formed. They could already be seen from afar, when the last buildings of Puerto Peñasco were behind us and the Sonoran desert layed before us. The massive displacement of land masses during the formation of Baja California resulted in volcanic activity that resulted in spectacular landscapes. In addition to the elevations, the reserve is characterized by other sights of geological origin. There are cooled lava flows, crater landscapes and huge sand dunes to admire.

Wandering through streams of lava

We stopped at the Schuk Toak Visitor Center. Built on a cooled lava flow, the center houses a small exhibition about the history and geology of the region. Then you can take a short walk over the cooled lava streams to get an idea of ​​the situation for yourself. Very impressive. Above all, a short film at the end of the tour through the Schuk Toak visitor center showed once again that a desert is by no means a dead environment, but bursts with life.

An unexpected visitor

The afternoon was rounded off by a visit to one of Salvador’s insider tips. Tortas San Luis has all kinds of delicious take away sandwiches, which we ate back at the boatyard with beer and homemade margaritas from SV Catspaw. We just sat there, everybody enjoyed a day off and chatted about all sorts of things. In the middle of our peaceful get-together, we were suddenly supplemented by an unexpected guest.

Milagros, the animal shelter

Katie and Mike from SV Alegria had found a budgie near their boat. Nobody knew where the little guy of bluish-gray colour came from. He suddenly sat there, asleep on the floor. Apparently the animal seemed to be used to humans. It must have flown out a window somewhere. The case was clear, time for the Astillero Cabrales animal rescue team to take over. Pati and I took the budgie visitor to Milagros, where he was to stay until his owner or a new place was found.

We were bird owners now

The budgie was a welcome change and brought action aboard. When he wasn’t hanging out on our heads or shoulders and resting, he would walk back and forth across the coffee table and inspect everything that came before his beak. Since we didn’t want the budgie to fly around freely at night, I built him a small cage out of all sorts of scraps I found at the yard. Dulcé, the harbor cat, would certainly not have minded having a bite of our budgie. Since she liked to visit us at night, our new bird friend had to spend the night in the front head (toilet).

Oh nooooo!

Well, who would have thought that this joyful event would end in drama. The next morning we noticed that “Budgie” (we’d given him a name by now, and an unbelievably creative one, too) was falling asleep all the time. No sooner had he taken a few steps than he apparently needed to rest. Weird. But when he suddenly threw himself off my shoulder flapping his wings and landed on the floor, the whole story took a sad turn.

A Sudden Death

Our new roommate was dead within 20 minutes. Just like that. Gone. History. We have no idea what happened to the bird. We’re guessing (or hoping) that he was just an old guy and maybe all the fuss on the boat was a little too much for his tiny little heart. What a way to start the day. So we buried Budgie under a small tree near the boat. Farewell, little guy. It was fun while it lasted.

We move  forward

It is of course not easy to work on as if nothing had happened. Half the day was already over when we could focus on the hull of Milagros again. We want to put an end to our osmosis blisters. An oversized Dremel came to help, which we could borrow from another boat. The dried out fiberglass could be easily removed with the machine and so I worked along the hull from blister to blister.

Am i doing this right?

What quickly became noticeable was that I had apparently overdone it with drilling into the osmosis blisters. We now have a lot of tiny holes to fill. It was also the first time working on Milagros that I was somehow unsure whether I was doing my job properly. It was a strange feeling to grind indentations into the hull on Milagros’ bare fiberglass. Hopefully we can get rid of all the grinding marks.

More problems

Unfortunately, the week was also overshadowed by another negative incident. After an outboard motor was stolen from a boat recently, another boat very close to ours was actually broken into. In the dead of night the thief got access to the yard and snatched various tools from the vessel. Then he rode off on Patricia’s beautiful green bicycle. What a jerk! Nobody knows exactly how the whole thing went down. The fact that the night guard on our side mostly spent his working hours sleeping wasn’t much of a help either. Oh, and someone lit a cart filled with garbage on fire right next to the boatyard too. Fun times!

Think its over? Think again!

Hardly a few days later we see the news in the morning that an inhabited boat, again very close to Milagros, had been ambushed by a masked attacker early in the morning. The thief closed the hatches with zip ties and examined the boat. When the sleeping residents woke up and started making noise, he asked for money before he left. Another escalation level has been reached. We were inevitably made aware that we are no longer in the safe haven of Switzerland.

Garbage on the streets of Puerto Peñasco
Mexico has a dark side, after all

Sleepless Nights

Salvador Cabrales reacted immediately and massively increased the security precautions. We too entrench ourselves, and now use a stepladder that we pull up onto the ship at night. Still, I’ve had a few restless nights. My head was in alarm mode and I woke up a lot. Since Puerto Peñasco also comes up with all sorts of background noises during the night, my sleep quality is correspondingly poor and, above all, the morning time is characterized by tiredness. Sometimes that affects my mood badly. Poor Pati. Sorry for that …

Show must go on

Despite all the tiredness, boatwork was the order of the day. After a while, our hull began to look like a modern work of art. In an attempt not to loose track of the grinded osmosis blisters, I marked them all with a red pen. Smaller holes were marked in blue that didn’t need to be rebuilt with fiberglass. While we really did remove a lot of delaminated fiberglass sandblasting the hull, we believe we got lucky.

Step by step

With our 40-year-old boat, striving for perfection would be beyond any temporal and financial sense. After all, at some point we want to «splash», as boat owners say. We hope that in a few weeks we can assemble something too, instead of just taking stuff apart all the time. The work adds up, more and more is added. Let’s just hope we can keep this under control…

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