Thursday, November 5, 2015

What horrors await us?

The decision as to where to leave Sarita for the hot summer months, during which we would be in the UK, was one fraught with potential problems that could occur while we would be away. There were several options and each had its merits. 

La Cruz / Puerto Vallarta. We know and like La Cruz and are familiar with all the services around in case we need anything doing but we would be leaving the boat in the water and The marina is in the hurricane belt, albeit none have ever hit. The area is very humid in the summer and gets a lot of rain and thunder and lightning storms. We have heard of stories of people coming back to their boats and they had been struck by lightning and all their electronics were fried and other people coming back and the boat was destroyed inside due to mildew. I am sure there is a little bit of a cruiser myth element but there is also some truth to the stories. So we ruled La Cruz out for storing the boat.

La Paz, in the Sea of Cortez was another option. Again it’s just a marina rather than taking the boat out of the water, which I prefer if I am going to be away for a long time, but it is a great place to be. I think the climate is better, less humidity and rain and less lightening but it is in the hurricane belt as well and got hammered a few years ago with a few boats lost and a few lives as well.

San Carlos / Guaymas are both in the northern part of the sea of Cortez on the mainland side. San Carlos is not the prettiest or busiest place we have been to and having to spend a few months there would not be my cup of tea but they have both in the water and dry storage and are outside the hurricane belt, not that it is a guarantee that it will not get hit. San Carlos does have the reputation for having a very dry climate with intense heat which is supposed to produce wood cracking temperatures inside the boat if left on the hard (out of the water). People also talked of a big insect problem along with mice that destroy your upholstery. There is always something and like most things in boating the decision is always a compromise. 

We decided on San Carlos because it sounded the safest being away from hurricanes. Yes our boat is insured but with a 10% excess. San Carlos is also an easy bus ride from Phoenix.
So when we returned to our beautiful home we wondered what horrors awaited us.

We had booked ourselves into the prestigious Holiday Inn express in Guaymas, a bargain at $62 a night, and enjoyed the last of the air conditioning we would be having for sometime. We met up with our friends from Coastal Drifter and Pesto, going to the movies and getting a real soaking in a tropical storm that passed through (see Katya’s Corner). The following morning I went to have a look at Sarita and see what damage had been done and was very pleasantly surprised. No cracked wood, no infestation of mice or cockroaches (we had left traps and poison) and our full covers were still intact except for a small tear near the mast. There appeared to be no damage and the rain the previous evening had given Sarita a great wash down. I was curious to see what temperatures the inside would reach so I had left two temperature gauges in the boat which would record the maximum temp during our absence and both read 37c, much lower that we had expected. I put this down to having the full covers on the boat which kept the direct sun off the boat but allowed wind to travel under covers. 

I reconnected the batteries and was pleased to see that they still held a full charge. We would not be able to start the engine until Sarita was back in the water so we hoped that all would be good on that front.

The following day Sarita was taken down the road and back to the marina where she was launched. The engine started perfectly so we motored over to our slip and started to prepare for heading back across the sea. 

Replacing the sink tap
A couple of problems came to light – firstly the bilge pump test failed and it appeared that the bilge had a gallon or two of fresh oil in it. After much panic I found that it had come from a ruptured container of spare engine oil that was stored below decks. It had ruptured when the boat tilted on being put back in the water and was crushed by a few other containers. The heat contributed to the rupture as the plastic container became quite soft. A lesson learnt is that contrary to most advice the bilge is the hottest part of the boat not the coolest as it is closest to the outside of the hull and is painted black. The second problem that we found was that we had a leaking kitchen sink tap (faucet) and needed to be replaced as the unit is not capable of having the seal replaced. We could not turn the water on in the boat until the tap was replaced so with much frantic searching and going backwards and forwards to Guaymas on the bus I found a new tap and struggled and swore as I installed it. A very big thank you to Alex on Pesto who ferried me about in his car to get some parts to install the tap. I also had to strip down the bilge pump and repair it using parts from an old motor and clear the awful oily mess in the bilge.

Our plan was to be out of San Carlos in a couple of days and head across the sea of Cortes again and work our way south to La Paz to get my tooth sorted out. The sooner we could get out the sooner we would stop paying marina fees and enjoy swimming in the beautifully clear water. As is the way out plan took longer to execute and it was not for another 4 days until we departed.  We frantically cleaned the boat, tested systems including the water maker and bought provisions for the 3 week journey to La Paz.

All in all there were not horrors except my foul language when trying to install the new tap.        

1 comment:

  1. As Kelly said, "Only a boater can understand the horror of finding oil in the bilge and then the relief discovering it was from a spare container." Feels like a bullet has been dodged! Enjoying your entries!