Monthly Archives: May 2017

Season End

May 2017

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.

San Carlos

Entering San Carlos

Entering San Carlos

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.

3/4 three strand in a propellor

3/4 three strand in a propellor



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.

Haul Out


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

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Santa Rosalia, Midriffs, Crossing the Sea

Santa Rosalia, April 17 to 28
A blinding light through the stateroom window and a loud horn. I wake up at 2 am with a spotlight shining through the window. AHHHH. It’s the ferry entering Santa Rosalia Harbor. We took a slip at the Fonatur Marina for a week hoping to do an engine repair and perhaps find a doctor to look at my eye. Again, no doctors here, only La Paz, but the eye seems stable and Guaymas is only a day a way or so.

The marina is butt ugly. Black walls surround you with mountains of rip rap. The water is brown…no water making here. Down the dock the Mexican navy keeps their patrol boat and a couple of fast marine rescue boats. The Navy guys seem great– wish I spoke more Spanish. One morning we wake up to the sounds of three guys scraping hard marine growth off of the floating docks that keep the fast boats out of the water with smooth bottoms while they are not in use. They swim for exercise most days in the funky water. Probably keeps them more resistant to disease. These guys look tough and athletic.
The town is a true Mexican town. This is a mining town owned by a French company Compagnie du Boleo and the French influence is there. Represented by the colonial architecture of the city hall and the church was designed by Gustav Eiffel and imported from Belgium. A later remodel of the church added more traditional construction to the sides of the metal church. The remodel was respectful and the new eaves have the same scalloped metal trim as the original structure. The town has many mining artifacts left after the French closed their operation in 1946 after copper prices fell. In 2010, a consortium of Canadian and South Korean companies reopened the mine to extract copper and cobalt an important mineral for newer battery chemistries.

Lisa and I cook on the boat a lot and enjoy the process, but towns are a chance to take a break, and we like checking out the different places. In Santa Rosalia, we had delicious ice cream at Splash where a handsome young Mexican man enjoyed practicing his English on us. At Tercos, we enjoyed the rotisserie chicken although the whole meal was a little heavy for us. We ate Chinese food at both of the Chinese restaurants in town. There are quite a few Chinese people here who came to work the mines at the same time they were coming to California for the gold rush to build a railway… gotta love those immigrants. Our favorite was probably Tonka’s Grill, where we enjoyed a steak and great margaritas.

Repaired with JB Weld

Repaired with JB Weld

Our raw water pump was leaking, sending a good bit of salt water over the engine block. The water pump went together much easier than expected as we have full rebuild kits aboard but in the process we cracked the raw water connection to the exhaust. In marine engines like ours, fresh water with coolant circulates inside the engine block in the same way as most cars, but instead of a radiator to cool the water, we have a heat exchanger to lower the coolant temperature. The raw water pump provides cool seawater to the heat exchanger and then the seawater is discharged into the exhaust system. This is a pretty slick trick since it cools off the hot exhaust gases both muffling the noise and cooling the exhaust allowing your exhaust to be in a hose instead of requiring a heat proof steel pipe, like an auto. The point at which the cool seawater is injected back into the exhaust is a crazy place as cool salt water is hitting the 500 degree exhaust gases. This makes for a pretty corrosive brew and our cast iron fitting cracked from the pressure of the hose clamp. A leak here is a pretty big problem since you will be dumping the saltwater into your engine room instead of back into the ocean. This part is a Volvo part and would take weeks to get in Mexico. I tried something I have never done before and used an epoxy product called JB Weld. First gluing the pieces of the casting back together, then giving the whole thing a wrap with fiberglass cloth and more JB weld. So far so good.
Our next stop was to be Bahia San Francisquito. We first set off on the 23rd, but as we rounded the first cape, Cabo Virgenes, we had winds gusting to 25 on the nose. With 65 miles to go and our general distrust of weather forecasting, we returned to Santa Rosalia for another 4 days.

Bahia San Francisquito, April 27 – May 2
This time we got around the cape, and motor-sailed to San Francisquito. While we had choppy conditions on the beam, it felt good to be using sails to help us get there. The midriff Islands form a line from San Francisquito to the mainland side of the sea, and their presence accelerates the tides as they pass between the island or the land. As we were approaching San Francisquito, the tide was ebbing and we found ourselves going against two or three knots of swirling current.
More heavy wind, and we spent the first 2 days on the boat. Wow, we have never been so isolated. The scenery is stunning. Groups of Dolphins sweep through the anchorage feeding on the fish. A coyote walks the beach in the evening. We hear them howling in the hills. Ours are the only footprints on the beach. Unfortunately, there are still signs of man. We have not visited a beach that does not have plastic litter. This beach has 4 or 5 black plastic crates, pieces of polypropylene rope from fishing equipment, and the number one item is plastic drink containers.
Typically, we have several other boats anchored with us, but here we are alone and enjoy some peaceful contemplation. After the winds die down, one boat spends the night leaving before sunrise the next morning and one panga ventures out to fish. We can see all the way to Isla Tiburon, which will be our next stop, 65 miles away. We will be crossing to the mainland in preparation for hauling our boat for the summer in Guaymas.

Bahia Cruces – Isla Tiburon May 2 – May 3
We cross the Sea of Cortez on a windless day to the Midriff Islands. The sea is a mirror. Above us hundreds of seabirds fly to visit the various bait balls that appear and disappear. We watch sea birds and dolphins plunging into the water which seems to boil with jumping fish and diving birds.

Early in the afternoon we anchor at Bahia Cruces. The Jejenes are relentless. These little flies don’t bite but they exist to be annoying. They walk around on your body preferring your skin to anything else around. There isn’t enough breeze to drive them away. On the beach, an apparently abandoned structure that looks like it may have been a museum, has several stone Monuments surrounding it. Makes you think it was a visitor center or something except there are no visitors here. No roads, no nothing. The front wall of the building is defaced with large white graffiti. On the beach are a bunch of bags and a large black cooking pot. As the afternoon progresses, three pangas arrive and set up camp on the beach. They shelter under the front overhang of the building preparing their meal. No one spends much time in the building. The fisherman are asleep on the beach as the sun goes down.

Las Cocinas, May 3- May 5

Sunrise is coming

Sunrise is coming

We leave Tiburon at 4 am to ensure a daylight arrival for our next anchorage. Glad to be free of the Jejenes. Leaving at night always feels a little eerie. The instruments glow red in their night setting and the cabin lights are red. The plotter is turned down to preserve night vision. Behind us our twin wake glows with phosphorescence in the water. We have a radar return on our port bow, but see no lights. We turn toward our new course, which brings us closer to the return. Suddenly the lights come on. An unlit fishing boat, or Panga has seen us change course and concerned about a collision turns on a lantern of some sort. Two hours later the sun begins to warm the horizon. Best of all we have wind. We sail on a close reach in 15 knots. The seas are pretty lumpy, but we enjoy the boat speed.
We anchor in the lee of a headland with good protection from the southeast winds. A little swell wraps around the point, but we are liking it. We take a walk on the beach and enjoy some of our best snorkeling. The water is clear and the bottom is scattered with starfish, anemones, Lots of fish school past us.

Bahia San Pedro, May 5 – May 6
We move to the next anchorage sailing downwind under the gennaker. Later, we take the dingy past the spectacular cliffs and caves on the northern side of the bay and enjoy a walk on the beach. The next morning an ugly swell has the boat rocking and rolling, and the weather promises more to come. So we move on.

Bahia Algodones, May 6 – May 8
We are definitely back in civilization. The soggy peso bar is at our end of a beach lined with custom homes and resorts. Just like La Paz, the music pounds into the night with the places shutting down at 4 am.



We are anchored at the north side of the bay expecting a northwest wind and swell. For most of the first day the wind is southwest and the resulting swell leaves us in less than perfect conditions. The swell would make a mono-hull really roll, but we are pretty comfortable; however, the resulting swell makes a beach landing tenuous. We stay on the boat for two days without going ashore. And finally move on to San Carlos where we will get a slip.

The weather has been the biggest difficulty so far. Our weather provider “Predictwind” gives us 4 models that are based on US and European data. One model comes from NOAA, one from a European Agency and two come from Predictwind which processes the US and European raw data separately with its own algorithm. The problem is that there is often no clear winner. Instead, I find myself looking for a consensus. One page of the forecast can give you a print out of the weather just as a data table. I have seen all 4 compass points represented for one hour of the forecast. We don’t actually care what the weather will be as much as we would just like to be able to plan our next move with some reliability. Where you anchor and when you go are pretty much weather based decisions.