Monday 22nd June.
A very jolly chappie on the morning net points out that we have two potential hurricanes forming roughly 1000 miles SW of the Baja Peninsula, but it’s a lovely sunny day so let’s not worry about them! In fact they are not much of a threat. I use this site at the US National Hurricane Centre for my initial data.
I spend the morning writing up the documentation for the work I did yesterday and then installing and testing it. That takes me right up to my Spanish lesson, which goes well until the end when I pronounce a sentence in a half hearted way, and for some reason, Arturo bursts out laughing, he can’t contain himself, I ask him to explain what I said wrong, as I don’t want this kind of thing happening down the Mercado, but each time he starts to explain, he starts the uncontrollable laughter again. This goes on for far too long, eventually I gather I mispronounced Ba and Ja, with a Ha sound, but I sounded like a grumpy old Mexican. Apparently it’s the funniest thing he has heard in a long time. Oh well.
Perhaps I’m a bit grumpy because we had just spent 15 minutes practicing my pronunciation of the phrase ‘Por Qué and ‘Porque’. The stress, and emphasis seems to be very important as the words can mean a lot more than ‘why and because’. Something I am leaning is that syllables must be pronounced completely flat. no sing song, but stress on the correct syllable is critical. Also I have to do the actions now, to emphasise I mean ‘For God’s sake Why’ I have to be waving my arms in the air shouting ‘Por Qué’
Lesson over and I jump into the dinghy to get away from the heat, and head over to the Magote. This strip of land has many mangroves and inlets along the shoreline, I headed SW and found an interesting inlet/creek. Now as it seems Santa is still having trouble delivering my DJI Mavic Pro Drone, I have had to make do with some google and bing images to show you the aerial view. I have also tried to do a zoom in as the drone descends from the stratosphere with the help of some circles and lines.
Before I enter the mangroves I notice a fire has started in the distance, I think this is probably the La Paz refuse centre, it seems to catch fire a lot.
The entrance to the mangroves is hidden until you are almost on it, the water shallows to just a foot or so and I have to lift the motor up and row towards the entrance. There’s a build up of sand, or a bar as it’s sometimes called, at the entrance, but I can get around the side of it where there is a channel that drops to 1 metre deep once inside the creek.
Inside I can see the bottom well, as in most places there’s only a foot or two of crystal clear water. The small fish are darting around at what seems like a fast pace, but every now and then, a large fish zooms through like an underwater missile, if you blink you miss it, and the little fish, somehow seem to scuttle away even faster.
There’s another half metre of tide to rise yet, but all across the sandy river bed I can see indentations which I work out are foot prints, and I expect someone has been walking through casting their nets here.
I get out my little paddle and work my way deep into the inner reaches of the mangroves, through gaps the dinghy can just fit. Then I find myself in a place with lots of little buzzing flying stinging creatures so I make a quicker retreat.
Once I’m back in the bay I chuck my little anchor over the side and enjoy a very refreshing swim.
I notice the fire is now creating a lot more smoke and the change in wind direction at a certain altitude is quite visible.
Lots of Spanish practice today, but to break the lesson up I head off to the ferreteria for a spot of exercise and to buy some very fine wet & dry sandpaper with a grit rating of 2500, I didn’t even know it came that fine.
Before I went into the ferreteria I realised my bike lock was missing from my basket, I suspect it fell out on the way here, so after my shopping, I head back retracing my route. I recall hitting a hole in the road down a side street that quite shook the bike. I need to find that road. Retracing my steps is a little fraught, as I travelled down two main roads that are one-way, but it makes for more fun. Eventually I find the hole, but there’s no sign of the lock. Now I start to think what might have happened? I have it in my mind, that due to the poverty here, and the fact I’m a little bit out of the centre, that perhaps somebody has picked it up knowing it might have some value. Of course without the key, which is in my pocket, it has little value. So I slowly cycle around the block and sure enough I spot a bedraggled chappie standing on the corner staring at the lock in his hands. I’m now focussed on the fact he has locked it closed. I’m trying to quickly work out the implications of this. He found the lock open. but without a key. At this point the lock is almost useless, it has one last thing it can do, and that is to change to the locked state. Once locked, without the key, it’s all over. What he has done gained him nothing, yet removed his only option. I figure I have the advantage on him now, so I approach and explain that I had lost that lock and would like it back, I reach into my pocket and produce 10 peso, which is about 40p or 50c, I offer it to him, and he says it’s not enough, I look him in the eyes, and he knows his bargaining position is quite weak, especially as I have two new ones on the boat and I don’t even like this fluorescent green lock. He hands over the lock and seems happy. I spend the rest of the journey home wondering if my logic was right for the lock, until I reach the Oxxo store by the marina and indulge myself with a Magnum Double Chocolate.
At some point in the past somebody, probably me, has used an aggressive scourer on the stainless steel sink in the toilet, it’s letting the new shiny tap down and has been bothering me.
I set about sanding the steel down and get quite a decent shine to it, not quite mirror finish, but by starting with 1000 grit then 2500 I manage to get the gouges out.
I need some polishing compound now. I had all of this at home in England, but threw it when I sold the house. Later the urge to do the same polish on the galley sink overcomes me and I spend half an hour on one sink with great results. Of course now I have to do the other sink, and get the polishing compound and buff it up to a mirror finish. This is the problem with having too much time and nowhere to go!
I think I have cracked the future tense in Spanish today ‘voy a’ etc. Arturo seems to have stopped laughing now, which helps! I tried to ask if the adjective always changes gender to follow the noun, and he didn’t understand my question, so I tried to use my new word caluroso, for hot (as in the weather) and wanted to know if it would become calurosa if the hot thing was feminine, so I tried to say would it be ‘calurosa chica’ as I couldn’t think of another feminine noun that might be hot. Rather than answer that question, Arturo gave me a stack of phrases to use instead to mean ‘hot babe’ including chica sabrosa meaning tasty babe, none of which I need, but sabrosa is a good word for restaurants, es muy sabrosa.
Today the supermarket has reinstated the tea mountain. It’s called Jamaica, I think we know it as hibiscus tea. I stuffed a few years supply into a bag with the plan to brew it up when I get back to the boat, in fact I will in reality take it on a tour of a few continents before tipping it overboard. If you know what I’m meant to do with it, do leave a comment. I have been drinking it cold in taco bars and it’s very nice, at least I think that’s what it was.
Hurricane threats are on the up, with 5 possible events showing up, but they are all unlikely to be a problem.
I decide I ought to check if the engine still works, just in case I should ever venture out of here again.
Firstly I do the normal checks and see the oil is a bit low. I thought I had topped it up, and looking under the engine I see there is oil in the drip pan.
So I dig out the nappies. If I was rich and stupid, I would use marine oil absorption pads, but I find Kiddies Atifugas work just as well. The biggest problem is getting them past the checkout girl without her wondering if I might have kidnapped a baby or something. I accept I look a bit too old to have a baby. I wonder how Mick Jagger coped.
I check the engine is in neutral, only to find the gear stick, lever won’t budge. A little bit of firm wiggling and it moves but with a very rough grating manner, I can hear things rubbing/catching in the binacle, so I assume it’s no big deal. I will need to investigate, but for now I can change from ahead to astern.
I turn the key, normally the engine would start within a second, but not today, it takes a couple of attempts letting the starter run for about 5 seconds. Then it starts just fine. I think the fuel must have drained back into the tank as it sat here for the last couple of months. I put it into reverse and the gearbox doesn’t engage, which is a worry, but after some stronger wiggling with the lever, it engages. I’m thinking something is not quite right in the binacle where the lever joins the teleflex cable.
Next I try ahead and astern again, and all is fine. I turn the bow thruster on, but the light on the control stays firmly off. Not good, I suspect a bad connection.
I had every intention of spending Thursday taking it easy and getting really stuck into the Spanish, however I can see myself having to take the binacle apart and also sort out the wiring for the bow thruster. With all this boat stress I think you will understand how I could lose 6 of the last 9 games of Scrabble with Kathy.
Please don’t tell me I’m the only one, who at the grand age of 61 to has just twigged that “The word alphabet is a compound of first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta.” I just found this out when I learnt Spanish for alphabet is Alfabeto.
If you own a Baba or similar boat with a knock off Edson binnacle, you may be interested in the rest of today’s activities, however should you be a more normal person, you might as well skip to Friday.
Once I could look inside, the problem was apparent. The securing nut for the bolt that keeps the big cog on the spindle sticks out and was catching the small nut on the morse/telefex cable
I need to reposition the cable so that this can’t happen, It’s not going to be a problem in reality as once the forward gear is selected, the lever falls back a little and the nuts don’t touch. To do this I need Kathy waggling the lever while I climb to the back of the engine to adjust the transmission end. Something that is a lot of hassle. As a temporary fix, I file the bolt and nut down to present less of a target for the cable.
While I have the binnacle in bits I slap a coat of varnish on the compass base, and get rid of a varnish run that had been bugging me for over a year.
I find where the cables to the bow thruster are joined and wrapped up in tape, expecting some moisture might have got in, but before I start ripping them apart, I consult the manual to find out which wire has the power so I can test that first. Well I’m sure you have heard of the ‘turn it off then back on’ as a way to fix things, looking at the manual, I realised all I had to do was turn it on. Feeling like an idiot, I turn on the big circuit breaker, and all is working fine. I never normally turn this breaker off as there’s no need really, unlike the big breaker for the anchor windlass, that could easily be activated by stepping on the foot switched on the bow.
So all is working again.
Off to Chedraui for supplies, outside a lady has set up a small stall to sell masks, I cycle past thinking I should buy one, and eventually decide to turn around and pick one up while also practising my Spanish. I don’t feel the need to tell her my age this time.
Later the wind gets up and I’m pleasantly soaked motoring over to el Magote for a swim. The outboard stalls a few times, I think the big waves are churning up dirt in tank. I need to investigate.
Spanish homework, then a trip to a Mexican bookshop to buy a book I can practice reading from. I’m going back with Arturo in a week or two, as he can help me get one that doesn’t have long words, but for now, I pick up an attractive book on the history of the peoples of the Baja Peninsula, going back to before the Spanish missions. The bookshop is supposed to be one of the best in town, but has a feel of a Malaysian shop. There’s no love for the books here, all very practical shelving in rows more like a discount supermarket. I think I have been spoiled by the British and American bookshops which are closer to a Diagon Alley (Harry Potter) vibe.
A check of the hurricanes shows the earlier threats have gone, but there’s a new one called Boris, but as you might expect it’s all wind and won’t last long, it has caused quite a depression though. I’m more worried about the next two as they will start with the letters D & C, which is a lot scarier than Boris 😉 (UK Specific joke)
A very dull day, stinking hot and I don’t do much other than work out how the man with my padlock could have used it. I had been pondering the value of a lock that you don’t have a key for, and eventually it dawned on me that this is how you are reading this blog. It’s called Asymmetric encryption, or Public/Private keys. Basically he could have put my lock on ebay/amazon for Kathy to buy, she could have used it to lock a parcel she sent to me which only I could unlock!
I bet he’s kicking himself now.