Welp, readers, we are on the hard in San Carlos. Just when we were getting used to being able to swim at will off the boat, just when we were seeing sea horses and eels and octopi and flying herds of mobula rays and all the other incredible underwater creatures, suddenly the party is over. How long will we be in boatyard hell? If I knew the answer to that, I’d buy a lottery ticket. You might want to settle in with a beverage for this post.
It’s like this: shit happens when you are not paying close enough attention, when you are still learning that all the charts are wrong (except for the Blue Latitude charts) and that’s really the only explanation for what happened on March 30. We have no excuses except for our own humanity. We just made errors in judgement. Due to those errors we had an encounter I like to refer to as a ‘deep French kiss’ with a big flat rock near Los Candeleros; probably the same one many other boats have left their mark on. It’s not that the rock is uncharted. It’s just that we weren’t sure which chart was accurate and we didn’t stay far enough off. Whoops! Poor Galapagos. She’s such a forgiving vessel. It took us awhile to forgive ourselves for this, but here we are now, no worse for the wear.
Thankfully we were going dead slow and were heading into deeper water when the cursed rock leaped with malice and deliberation into our path and smacked Galapagos on her not-insignificant bottom. Otherwise we might be writing a different blog post. We felt like crap about it, but, well, if you’ve never hit a rock maybe you just weren’t trying hard enough. We slid right onto it, and then we backed down off using our trusty and reliable Beta Marine engine. We were very, very fortunate as in all of our mishaps.
All of our mishaps? Let’s see. So far during this year we’ve lost our headsail, we’ve hit a whale (totally the whale’s fault), lost our boom, somehow cracked our holding tank (might have been the whale that did that), and given a rock some love. These things, and others that will surely happen at some point, are why we bought a big, thick, fiberglass hull of a boat. It takes a lot to take our girl down. She needs to protect us from our own stupid sometimes.
I have to tell you, this rock encounter was the loudest event ever. Honestly it sounded like the entire boat was coming apart in the moment but after lifting all the floorboards it was clear we were still floating. Later we realized why there was so much noise. It wasn’t the rock’s fault. It was that Mike had left his wall unit of thousands of stainless steel screws, bolts, etc, unsecured in the workshop. He had been organizing all the pieces. Oy. The impact sent the drawers flying, spewing metal pieces all over the workshop floor. The cacophony! Could have been worse. Those drawers left standing on the counter top could have joined their brethren on the floor.
After it happened we pulled into Puerto Escondido and had a diver check the hull and take photos of the damage and decided that while there certainly WAS damage to be fixed, it wasn’t a deal breaker and we’d continue with our cruise and fix it when we hauled out to do maintenance. And that’s how we find ourselves here, in a cheap apartment about a mile from the Marina Seca boatyard with Mike in the kitchen checking out the cassette tape player and listening to Mexican music he doesn’t understand. I’m hanging out underneath the air conditioner, which barely keeps up with the heat. It’s an interesting life overall, but we are about to get a whole lot of bored. But let’s go back to our arrival here in San Carlos.
As has been our usual routine, we had not made reservations for things like haul outs or hotel rooms preferring to just trust that things will work out like they generally do. Since having determined dates on the calender causes us untold stress because…sailing… we arrived with only a loose plan that we needed a haulout date and time, and then a hotel room or Air BnB, in that order. Little did we know that the marina would be offering us a haulout time of 3:00 on the same day we walked in the door. We took it and hightailed it across to the lovely Hotel MarinaTerra, throwing ourselves on the mercy of handsome and charming Juan Carlos, behind the front desk. Did they possibly have room for us for three nights while we got our feet on the ground and figured out how long we’d need to be here? Juan Carlos typed quickly into his keyboard, frown lines wrinkling his really very attractive eyes. After hemming and hawing and clicking frantically, he was able to ‘move people around’ to accomodate us for the low cash up front price of 1700 pesos per night. We would need to go to the ATM just up the street to get the cash. No need to take our names, etc. Just find him when we got back and he would check us in.
The ATM turned out to be a little further than “just up the street” in the 90+ degree heat and dripping humidity that felt more like 105 degrees. By the time we got back I was sweating alarmingly and was probably a nauseating shade of pink. We approached our Juan Carlos, money in hand. “But Señora! You are sweating!”. Honestly, had the lad offered me his handkerchief I would have taken it willingly. My parasol simply was not up to the task in this weather. “Yes, well, Juan Carlos, it’s a long walk to that ATM just up the street.” Eyebrows raised in consternation, “Walk? You walked to the ATM? No no no no! Why would you walk? You must always call me if you need something. Here is my phone number. If you need to go anywhere else you call me and I will get you a taxi. We work with two taxis who are honest.” NOW he tells me.
We hand our money over to our shining friend, who says that this day is his birthday and this is why everything is working out for us, and ask for the receipt. Receipt? Receipt? Juan Carlos ‘splains everything: “Here we have two systems. We have the regular system where we print out a receipt from the computer and we have the cash system, which is cheaper, and where there is no receipt. But here are your room keys, and the towel cards for the swimming pool. And you tell me if you need anything and if you want to stay longer I will find something for you even if we are very full because today is my birthday! ” Since manager Jesus was standing by (and perhaps his name may have had something to do with our decision to just roll with things, as we’ve learned to do in Mexico, even when it makes us all kinds of nervous), we threw our American-caution-receipt-loving to the wind. After all, we don’t give a flying donkey’s hind end what happens with that money and they don’t have our credit card information. We just want a room with a marina view and excellent air conditioning and maid service. And that’s exactly what we got for three glorious days. If only we had been able to enjoy it more. Instead we were at the boatyard sweating and swearing during the hot parts of the day.
On the first boatyard day it looked like things were going to move along quickly. A well known metal-working man named Raphael came from Guaymas and looked at our boom, taking the short end with him to his partner at his shop to discuss and come up with a bid for repair. We, fortunately, had a translator with us when Raphael came to visit because otherwise who knows what we may have agreed to. Today Mike found the short end of the boom returned to the yard, sitting by the boat. No word from Raphael, no idea what is going on in his mind about our boom. Will he be able to fix it? Only Raphael knows and he’s not talking. At least not today. Perhaps Monday. Or Tuesday. Hell, we got here without a boom, so I guess it’s technically not necessary to have one but we are not much of a sailboat without it. On the other hand, it’s dead simple sailing with only a headsail and a tiny mizzen acting as the main. We sailed almost all the way here from Isla Carmen that way.
On the second boatyard day we found a guy who used to build holding tanks out of PolyEthylene. He doesn’t anymore but he came with some rod and tried to repair ours for us. We were hopeful as we stood around the back of his pickup truck watching him melt the material into the holes in our tank. But it appears our tank material is somehow compromised and the rod has trouble sticking in certain trouble spots. He did his darndest, but it still leaks a bit. However, we’ve been limping along with it like this for months now, the butyl roofing tape holding the leaks at bay. As long as we don’t let it get too full, it’s fine. We just keep it pumped out frequently. We could cruise with it like this until we are in an area where people still build poly tanks; an area which, apparently, is not around here. We are leaning toward just leaving it alone for now. We should stop borrowing trouble.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, our time in luxury was running short. We couldn’t keep paying 80$/night and still enjoy it. Mike located this Air BnB place for 39$ a night. It looked like a reasonably good place, had air conditioning, and the listing said there was a pool we could use. We snagged it and checked in. Alas, no pool. Really, I’m pretty irritated by that because I could use an outdoor activity that involves water without the additional elements of sand and salt. Also the air conditioning is marginal. It’s too small a unit for this large a place and has to run on high all the time. These are small things compared to dying of heat exhaustion in the boatyard , and you get what you pay for. But come on, man! Don’t tempt me with the promise of a pool if you can’t deliver! And I need to clarify each and every single item that is in a listing if it’s important to me, I guess. Honestly, we probably would have taken it anyway because the hotel was booked for the weekend, Juan Carlos was nowhere to be found when we needed him, and we needed an affordable place within walking distance of the boatyard. Thankfully there is good wifi and the blender works.
So aside from living arrangements on land, the big question remains “Is the party over?” for this season. Will we get back into the water in time to sail back to Puerto Escondido and stop for one last lingering snorkel? The determining factor in terms of how long Galapagos will be in the yard, is how long it will take for the damaged part of the hull to dry out. It was drip drip dripping water for two days but has slowed down considerably today. Yesterday one of the yard workers took on the hot job of grinding out all the loose material so we could get a good look at the damage and also so it would dry out more quickly and make a clean area for repair. I felt for the guy but I’ve never been so pleased to pay anyone 115$ in my life. It was brutal work. So she’s ready to fill and glass in, but she’s not dry enough yet and so we wait. Here’s why that’s an important issue, and you’ll just love the irony of this:
We fly home on July 2 from Loreto, on the other side of the sea. Yes, it’s a deadline! An APPOINTMENT! We have an actual reservation and have paid for our tickets, an act which we knew would lead to a thwarting of the cruising gods, we just were not sure how. We had planned to leave Galapagos on a mooring ball in Puerto Escondido because we wanted to leave her in the temperature-moderating water rather than in the blazing hot boatyard. We were happy with that decision. However, if she doesn’t dry out fast, and we want to be absolutely sure she is very dry before repairing her, then we will have to change plans and leave her here at Marina Seca with the hundreds of other boats left behind by their owners. It’s like long term daycare for boats here; a great sea of masts. That would mean finding a way back across the sea with our luggage to pick up our flight out of Loreto because we cannot cancel those tickets without a significant penalty.
We have options. There is a ferry to Santa Rosalia from Guaymas. There are also flights from Guaymas to Loreto. We’ll be checking all that out. I mean, what else will we have to do with our time? It’s too hot to do outdoor activities away from the water. Heat exhaustion is a real thing and we’ve both been close to the edge a couple of times. So for the next few days we have plenty of time to do all the research. We have good wifi at this place and the air conditioning is right over the bed, which is king sized and made of memory foam and actually really comfortable. I’m predicting a lot of naps in the next few days. And that blender will be getting plenty of use.
S/V Galapagos, out, for now.