Leaving Gabriels boatyard

5th October 2023
Taxi to the Manchester airport, short flight to an airport in Europe (probably Amsterdam, can’t remember, they all look the same), then onto a 12 hour flight to Mexico city. Because of a last minute flight change, 6 hours of hanging around Terminal 2 at CDMX where I manage to lose my glasses. Then a short 2 1/2 hour flight to Hermosillo, an hour wait for a taxi to the coach station and then a 90 minute bus ride to Guaymas, then finally a 20 minute taxi ride to the boatyard where they are waiting for me to remove the forestay on the boat and load it into the travel lift and move me from the storage yard to the work yard.

I thought I was getting a cold the day before I left, and possibly unwisely took up an offer of a winter flu virus jab the morning I flew out, the end result of all of this was I arrived at the boat feeling pretty ill, the intense heat, high 30’s didn’t help. So as soon as the boat was chocked up I crawled into bed and slowly cooked for a few days until I had enough strength to drag the Air con unit out from under the v berth and throw it on the coachroof pushing icy air into the boat. Phew.

The boat being loaded into the travel lift for its move to the work yard

A few days after arriving Josh, a boat dealer and importer delivered my batteries which he had organised to be shipped from San Diego for me. This was going to be my main job inside ther boat. There are 8 LiFePo4 cells (3.5v @ 280Ah lithium Iron Phosphate) plus a spare that make up 2 banks of 4 cells, giving me a total of 12v @560Ah. Equivalent to around 800-900Ah in Lead Acid. For thse of you not literate in Ampere Hours, that’s a massive amount of power for a small sailboat, if I had space I could install a dishwasher, washing machine / dryer, Stannah stair lift etc.

Makes me think of 8 bits plus parity for some reason (8/n/1/e)
Sorry to non nerdy types

The views from the boat are pretty cool, and of course the yard has dozens of really interesting sailboats around. A few deserted, but many old ones in the process of being given new life. I soon make friends with other yachties preparing their boat for the season. The heat is really too much to be working so life starts around 6:30am when it’s a little cooler. I’m having all of the old antifould removed and a new primer coat applied. It’s a bit over the top, but I want to ensure a get a good adhesion with the new paint and I get a consistent coverage over the boat. I am able to employ a local called David to do the work, however he hardly turns up and it seems he has rather overstretched himself by agreeing to take on far too much work. It seems to be very difficult to get staff here, much like many other countries post covid. Now there is a long waiting list to get paint jobs done here. So I resign myself to a long wait and decide to get on with other jobs like building the new battery banks.

Once the Aircon was working I donated this fan to another sailor who claimed it became a life saver for him.

My cracked Apple screen before it went black

Now I mentioned how I paid £750 for a new screen on my macbook when I returned home, well guess what, I may be doing the same pretty soon. I don’t want to talk about it any more or I might get upset. 🙁

So in between building batteries I have to service several of the seacocks and thru hulls, these are things that let water in and out of the boat. If they fail the boat can sink, so they all need checking over.

Cleaning and repairing the one way valve that stops the shower sump filling the galley sink

Port side well on the way.

Sadly there had been a big storm that passed through while I was away and it had ripped one of the solar panels off its frame, the panel was intact, but gouged a little, the frame was twisted and snapped in several places. It’s hard to be sure but I think about 90% is still working ok. However I had to pop off into town looking for an aluminium tube supplier. I think most towns in the world have one, I just had to find it. I figured if I could find one in remote Borneo, Guaymas should be easy.

Damaged panel and snapped support frame

The elusive aluminium shop

It took a while walking around town, but I enjoyed exploring and practising my directions in Spanish. Eventually I found a place and bought a 4 metre length which they happily cut into the desired sections I needed, short enough to fit into a taxi for a ride back

The main high st in town is getting a big makeover
A famous wooden boat I am told
Workers hard at work.

Suddenly David turns up with several assistants and in one day they strip the boat and get a coat of primer on! the next day they finish and I’m only half way through the batteries job.

Batteries in situ ready to rock and roll

So I get the batteries installed, in each box there is a 300A BMS (Battery Monitoring System), which is a computer that monitors each of the 4 cells, that’s what the thin wires are for. if any individual cell is acting odd, or under stress, the BMS shuts the whole system down. I’m hoping by having the two batteries in parallel I have some redundancy. Once again my carpentry skills were somewhat lacking and my first box had to be binned as it was 3 cm to short, don’t ask how that happened, I measured three times!

Clouds gather

2 weeks have passed and at this point we are close to being ready to launch. However ‘there’s a problem’, Hurricane Norma is heading up the coast in our direction. It’s most unlikely that it will reach us, that’s why we’re here, but I decide to delay launch until it’s gone so I finish the jobs and schedule the launch for Tuesday 24th October 2023.

A bargain if you have $20,000 USD spare

It looks like Norma will hit Cabo San Lucas at the bottom of the Baja peninsula and might track over to La Paz before dying out as it crosses over to Sinaloa. So while waiting I decide to clean the topsides. I can’t remember it actually looking this good before.

Topside deep cleaned. Needs polishing/buffing now
Does my bum look big on this

So the day before launch, the crew arrive with the travel lift and hoist me up, the blocks are moved along with the props/stands so that the covered areas can be painted.

The straps are joined under the boat with big pins
Then we are hoisted

Once in the straps the travel lift remains here overnight and tomorrow morning I will be lowered into the sea, backwards and will have to do a difficult 180 deg turn to be able to leave. The channel is very narrow.

The Hurricane passed through Cabo as predicted and hit La Paz much harder than expected. Sadly two of the marina saw big losses, Marina Cortez in particular is full of sunken boats, many others have large chunks of hull missing, I expect the damage to boats will run to the millions, but that’s very much a first world problem. I expect many Pacenos (locals) will have lost their homes in the flooding, many vendors had to close, and the town was still without electricity as I write. Part of the Malecon was ripped up, but for me the worst was losing a friend during the Hurricane.
Bob had lived on his sailboat Adios and was moored next to me for the year I was in the Marina, I got to know him well and had a lot of respect for the man. As a young man working in SF as a insurance estimator, he watched the sailboats entering and leaving the bay and decided that was the life for him, he quit his job, bought a small sailboat and sailed to Hawaii and back solo as his first offshore passage. In those days there was no GPS s he did it all by sextant. He was 90 when I last saw him and still went out kayaking most days. I was looking forward to seeing him again in a few weeks. Sadly he was found dead in his boat after the storm had passed, it is presumed he had a heart attack, his berth was close to the outside of the marina and quite exposed, although the boat was undamaged it must have been quite a wild ride for 24 hours. It’s very sad, but then I expect he would have much preferred to go quickly onboard his own boat than in a nursing home or hospital.
RIP Bob.
I’m off to bed now and will be launching at first light tomorrow. I have a space booked in a little marina just 20 minutes away in the centre of Guaymas, where I will stay for 2-3 days getting the sails on and generally preparing the boat for passage to La Paz where I will be meeting my son and his partner in a couple of weeks, then we are off to explore the Islands.

Paul Collister