Season End, Haul Out Time
Our first cruising season has come to an end. The last bit of business was to get Footloose settled for her summer home, hauled out of the water in Guaymas. Guaymas is the only yard with a travel lift large enough to handle our beam. We first visited San Carlos, another popular place for people to haul out or leave boats for the hurricane season and then moved on to Guaymas for the final work and haul.
We arrived San Carlos Marina on May 8. The only available slip for us was a bit dicey. We anchored out first, then dinghied in to get a closer look before committing. The space was very tight (29 feet wide) for our beam (25 feet) Plus, one side of the space was not a “dock” but rather a cement wall. We decided to go for it since we wanted a break from windy anchorages. Our friend Joanneke from Witte Raaf kindly offered to come along and help with our landing. She was able to fend off on the starboard side (next to the cement wall), while I took care of getting the lines tied off on the port side. Michael backed her in while the wind did its best to push us toward the wall. Sailing or docking, the wind direction has generally not been our friend this season. Still, no harm done, only a bit of an adrenaline rush. We settled in for a week and began prepping the boat for haul out and dry storage. We made our list of things to do and began chipping away. I cleared the pantry and donated some food to local orphanages. We checked off the list slowly. We both felt lethargic, a bit melancholy. Not sure if it was the work at hand, the heat, or the realization that we would soon be leaving Footloose, our home, for the summer.
We planned to leave early on May 15 for Guaymas, hoping to shove off before the wind picked up. We got up early, but had to wait until 0900 to checkout. By this time, the wind was up and had too much west, which was eager to push us directly into “the wall”. Michael recruited several to help with lines to hold us off the wall until he could pull away. It all worked well as he pulled out of the slip and turned down the channel. As soon as the stern cleared the dock, the men threw the lines, which I scrambled to retrieve from the water, first from the stern and then from mid-ships. As the boat was being swept to port, Michael was doing all he could to keep Footloose in the center of the narrow channel. I heard Jan yell to me – get the mid ship lines – and I ran from the stern step to pull them in. Too late – the prop was fouled on the line and Michael had lost steerage. Luckily there was an empty side tie dock and the wind pushed us on. The guys helped tie us off. I sat down and cried. Michael quickly put on his wet suit and dive gear and dove to look at the prop. He cut away the mess of lines, then tested the engines. All clear – we were off to Guaymas. We always debrief after things go well or awry. What could we have done better? In hindsight – 1) we could have anchored out and avoided the risk of the questionable dock space. 2) I could have brought up mid-ships line(s) first; or if docked and using line handlers, we could limit the number of lines, with four being too many for one person to bring in efficiently. 3) we could have brought Jan aboard to help with line retrieval. 4) Michael thought he could have built more speed allowing the rudders to work and steer the boat. Always learning.
First, we docked at Marina Fonatour. Again, we took the only space we could fit. The wind helped us this time, with Michael bringing Footloose into position and letting her drift to the dock. Others welcomed us and quickly tied us down. Countdown time — one week to get ready for the haul out. We did manage some breaks from the work detail to walk and eat in Guaymas. We were blessed to find our taxi driver, Jesús, who became our personal driver for the week. Whenever we called, he was there! He recommended Mariscos El Rey, which we enjoyed twice, with delicious seafood cocktails and grilled Pulpo. He drove us around to every Ferreteria in town looking for a fuel filter for the Gen Set. Jesús is married, has five dogs, two cats, and five niños all grown up. I adore him. His air-conditioned rides and our fun, albeit language-challenged conversations, were a pleasant diversion from the work and haul out dread.
I won’t detail all the boat prep here, but, oh my, it was more work than anticipated. We thoroughly cleaned the inside, polishing all wood trim, scrubbing floors, walls to headliners, cleaned the leather settee cushions, emptied all cabinets to clean some more. No mold will live here! Michael took down all lines and we wrangled in the sails. The main sail was the toughest. We tried to plan it for a windless moment, but when is that really? We got it down late afternoon and began to fold it (950 square feet, 250 pounds), with Michael at the tack and me at the clew. The wind puffed and a section of the sail billowed up over the side. AAAH, NOOOOO. Michael flopped on top of the wad and pulled it back down. Disaster averted. We began again, trying to keep the folds as tight as possible in order to fit sail into the bag for storage. Success. tick tock, tick tock. Watermakers pickled, check. Oil changes, check. Heads cleaned, check. All laundry cleaned and stored check. Suitcases packed, (UGH), check. The list got smaller, we got wearier. On Sunday, with heads now shut down, provisions all gone and nowhere to sit or sleep, we checked in at the Holiday Inn Express where we would stay for the week while we did final work. And then it was Monday morning.
After a fitful night, we go, both nervous. It’s my first time. I love our boat. It’s unnatural to take a boat out of water, yes? The space is irregular where we’ll be hauled, narrow and jagged. We carefully placed fenders around the boat. Michael marked where the straps should be placed for hauling under the hull’s lifting points.
We motored over at 0740, hoping to get there just at the right moment for the haul out scheduled for 0800. This is a very shallow area and we did not have much room for circling. As we approached, the travel lift was not in place and there was no one there yet to catch the lines. We radioed Gabriel at Marina Guaymas for assistance. There was some back and forth and around 0830, the men walked down to the dock. I handed off the bow lines on starboard and then stern line on port. Footloose was secure, but where was the travel lift? An hour later, Gabriel called to tell us there was a flat tire on the lift. It would be a couple hours. ok. We waited. We walked to OXXO for some ice and snacks. At 1000, Michael wandered out to the travel lift to check on progress on the tire. Two men were wrestling with the huge tires and were almost ready to remount the wheel. Michael returned to the boat. We waited. It’s hot. At 1300, Michael goes back to investigate and learned that no further progress had been made. He checked with the office about leaving the boat and returning the next morning. The owner of the travel lift agreed to haul the boat at 0900. We walked over to Gabriel’s where the boat will be stored and informed their office that the boat haul was delayed until the next day. Jesús picked us up and we went on our way shopping for filters and pausing for ice cream. At 1500, Gabriel called Michael, “where are you, your boat is in the sling ready to haul.” Michael – “What???!” The operation stopped.
The next morning, Jesús picked us up at 0730 to drive us back to the yard. This time the travel lift was in place and before I’d made a cup of coffee, it was show time. I climbed off the boat, turned my head away from the lift and Michael caught me making the sign of the cross. I bravely turned back to watch and took some photos. Footloose rose and they pulled her out. The travel lift proceeded up this rough roadway to the storage yard with Footloose swaying in the sling. yikes. (Deep Breathing required)
They parked Footloose and put her down on blocks. Relief, temporarily. Unfortunately, when we got back aboard and walked to the bow, we were horrified to find hydraulic oil spots all over the place. It apparently had leaked from the lift overnight. If only they had waited for us, we could have averted the mess by covering it properly. Instead, our custom kayak cover is stained. And our deck was a mess. We spent an additional day cleaning as best we could, but still no bueno. Captain very unhappy.
All Shall Be Well
We cleaned up today, secured the dinghy on deck, and said our farewell to Footloose. We’ve stored her the best we know how and pray that she’ll be safe for the summer. We’ve met Alejandro, who will likely do some sanding work for the bottom paint job. Everyone in the yard, workers and boaters alike are cheerful about it all, which is reassuring — sort of. Workers are confident in their work and of the safety of the yard. Boaters love to meet you and share their hurricane or other boat yard horror with a chuckle. No problema! What if a hurricane hits? It happens. A guy we met in the yard told us how his boat was hit by a falling wall – without a hurricane. Never mind.
We’re leaving soon, catching a flight to Albuquerque on Wednesday. What an amazing first cruising season from California to Mexico. We are excited to see family and friends this summer and looking ahead to next season, what will it bring? It will begin with putting the boat back together and likely cleaning off all the red dust. But then, Footloose will splash and we’ll be off — Mazatlán, Puerta Vallarta, Banderas Bay, La Cruz, Zihuatanejo, making our way to Panama maybe. All to be determined. Plans and crew are flexible.
We’re tired after the haul out. I’m reminded that it’s best to never make decisions about cruising after a rough passage or grueling boat work. Be mindful that there are far more sunsets than there are fouled props; many more friends than boat yards!
2016-17 Cruising Season