5/26/2012 – An overdue post about Puerto Peñasco

I apologize.  I see we’ve been her 5 days since I last posted anything.  For some reason I just haven’t been inspired to write.  Not sure why.  I’m hoping that by forcing myself to write today, I’ll break the block.  I’m planning on catching you up with what we’ve been doing here so this might be kind of a long entry.  Rather than proceed day-by-day, I think I’ll just arrange this more or less by topic.

Boat Chores:

Lulu was so happy to have a basically unlimited supply of fresh water available that she spent all one day completely cleaning the topsides.  Took everything off the deck, including the dinghy, and washed down every nook and cranny and then washed the dinghy as well.  Unfortunately, a couple days later a strong south wind started to blow and has continued through this morning.  It brought with it a ton of fine sandy grit which is now everywhere.  Everything has a gritty coating and not just outside.  A south wind blows right into our cockpit and subsequently, right into our companionway.  A lot of the time it was too hot to keep the doors closed so we just had to accept the grit.  Fortunately, the wind is supposed to shift to west and then north and lessen sometime today so maybe we can get things cleaned up again.  Really glad that Bill & Elli on s/v Cada Dia Más were able to get underway when they did as this south wind would have beat the crap out of them.  We got a look at the seas the last couple days and they’re ugly.  Of course, if they’d waited a few more days to leave they’d still be waiting as the port has been closed, due to the rough seas, for the last 3 or 4 days.

Lulu also took advantage of the fact that the laundry facilities here are half as expensive as anywhere else we’ve been and, since we’re the only cruisers in the marina, are pretty much unused.  She washed EVERYTHING.  Stripped the bed and hung the mattresses out to air, washed every piece of clothing or bedding that even might have seen dirt at some time in its life.

And what was I doing during this flurry of domestic activity?  Well, on the day she washed the boat I headed out on foot in search of parts and fluids for the engine.  I have a couple projects that I want to do while we’re here: locate and fix the anti-freeze leak, install an electric oil-changing pump, lube the Morse control, change oil and filter, clean the sea water strainer, etcetera, etcetera.  So, I set off in search of an auto parts store.

I found one not too far away. It was one of the many that are painted yellow and are obviously funded by Bardahl.  Although the clerks spoke no English, we managed to communicate.  One of the prizes I got was the electric fuel pump that I plan to install as an oil-changing pump.  Turns out it’s an exact copy of the fuel pump on my engine.  I’m going to hang onto it as a spare and go get another one for oil changing.

Since I found the things I was looking for so soon and, since I knew there was no place for me on the boat when Lulu was cleaning, I proceeded to take the long way back to the marina and do a little exploring along the way.  The walk did turn out to be pretty long but I didn’t really discover all that much that I needed to know.  Got a better feel for the layout of the town, though.

While Lulu was doing the laundry, I pickled the watermaker.  I decided to do it right and gave it a fresh water flush as well and changed all the filters and left their housings dry when done.  We’ll have to fill our tanks here before we leave and then try to limit our water use between here and Guaymas.  Otherwise, I’ll have to pickle it again before we lay the boat up for our vacation to the US and they say that pickling shortens the life of the membrane so I don’t want to do it too often.

As I think I wrote earlier, we’ve been having some engine-starting issues that I’ve pretty well decided are the fault of the battery.  The thing just didn’t seem to be taking a charge.  So, being here at the dock, I decided that I’d try equalizing it.  What did I have to lose?  ”Equalizing” for the uninitiated, is when you basically force-charge your battery.  When batteries are used and partially charged over and over again as they are on a cruising boat, the lead plates get coated with a sulfate which inhibits the chemical action.  Equalizing more or less blows the sulfsate off the plates, giving the battery new life.  So, I gave it a shot.  Well, 3 shots, actually since my charger only runs equalization for an hour at a time.  When I was all done, the status light on the Xantrex Link 20 showed a full charge rather than the single red light that signified “dead”.  Cool.  Will it have the oomph to start the engine?  Don’t know yet as I have to undo my interim wiring to check it and I don’t like to start the engine for no reason.  So, I’ll wait until I’m ready to warm the oil up for an oil change to see if it worked.  If not, well, we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Equalizing the batteries had an unpleasant and unanticipated (though it should have been) side effect.

I climbed down into the engine compartment on laundry day, all set to locate the antifreeze leak.  I think I found the worn hose that’s the cause of the leak but, before I could do anything about it, I discovered something else.  I grabbed the roll of paper towels that sits between the batteries and the Honda generator and noticed that part of the roll was wet.  Weird, since we hadn’t taken any sea aboard or anything and this roll usually stayed very dry.  Then I noticed that the wet part of the roll was kind of disintegrating.  It suddenly dawned on me.  When you force charge a battery (or anytime you charge a battery for that matter), hydrogen gas bubbles off.  If the fluid in the battery gets really boiling as it would during an aggressive charge, some of that boiling fluid (which is acid) is going to bubble up out of the batteries vented caps.  Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

So, instead of working on the anti-freeze leak, I got to clean up the acid spill in the engine compartment.  Fortunately, the Westsail 28 has a fiberglass liner in the engine room with a well where the batteries go.  So, the acid was pretty well confined to the well.  I poured a sodium bicarbonate solution around the batteries to neutralize the acid and you should have heard it fizz.  I pulled all 3 of the batteries that are stored in that location, cleaned their casings and set them on deck to dry while I cleaned the liner and battery well.  Had to take everything off the shelf including the generator and a couple of canvas tarps that were stored behind it.  One of the tarps survived since it was still in its original packaging but the other two were extensively damaged.  I cut the rotten pieces out and now we have a couple of nice sized hunks of heavy canvas to use for projects.  Been wanting to make a canvas bucket so now’s my chance.  While the batteries were out, I topped off their fluid levels.  I also checked the voltage on the starting battery.  To get a useful reading, the voltage is supposed to be taken with the battery connected to nothing and after it’s ‘rested’ awhile.  Couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than this.  The battery read 12.68 volts.  According to my Niger Calder book, a fully charged 12V battery should read between 12.65 and 12.70. Sounds pretty well charged to me.

One other little chore I did yesterday.  According to several sources, the water here in the harbor is “hot” meaning there is errant electricity running through it.  This will hasten the eroding away of sacrificial zinc anodes.  Cada Dia Más actually lost their bronze bow thruster prop to this galvanic action.  The zinc on our prop is still in fair (maybe 50%) condition and I think the zincs on our Frigoboat keel cooler are OK as well.  But, it sounded like we might want a bit more protection.  I bought a big weld-on zinc like they use on the steel shrimp boats here, drilled a hole in one of the weld-on tabs, connected it to a heavy copper wire which I then connected to my prop shaft and the keel cooler.  Then I hung the zinc over the side, supported by a nylon tether.  Hopefully this will slow down the erosion on our other zincs.

Connecting with the locals

When we were in La Paz, a great way to find out what was going on, other than standard cruiser scuttlebutt was through the Yahoo group La Paz Gringos.  In Mazatlan I used MazInfo. Since we still had some pressing questions that hadn’t been answered during the tour that Bill and Elli gave us, I decided to see if there was a similar Yahoo group in Puerto Peñasco.  I did find a Yahoo group but it hadn’t been used in sometime and was mainly a repository for SPAM.  I found several informative sites about PP or Rocky Point as the local gringo population tends to call it, and one of them eventually led me to Rocky Point Talk.  I joined and asked some questions about buses, taxis and where the heck is Wrecked At The Reef (the venue for Circus Mexicus) anyway?  The next morning I had a bunch of replies.  One was from Mark who offered to take us on a tour of PP.  We made arrangements to get together later in the day.  Also, before the discussion was over, he had offered us rides out to Wrecked at the Reef for the Saturday night concert as well as out to Cholla Bay (or near it) for the Friday evening “Hot Dog and a Smile” show.  How amable can you get?

About 12:30, Mark met us at the marina in his “disposable” car and we set off.  He took us all over starting at the Old Port, continuing out to La Concha, across town and out to Sandy Beach and on out to Cholla Bay.

It became really evident as we stood out there watching the wind-whipped Sea, why this is called Rocky Point.

 It was really gracious of Mark to take 2-3 hours out of his day to show us around his adopted home.  All of the folks we’ve met here, either in person or via the forum, have been amazingly friendly and helpful.

 Beach Walk
Inspired by Mark’s tales of walking along Sandy Beach, Lulu and I decided to walk from the marina all the way out to Wrecked At The Reef yesterday.  Finding access to the beach was a little problematic as the hotels have it pretty blocked off at first.  But we continued on and eventually found our way down to the sand.  The walking was super easy at first as the sand was packed down really hard.
However, as with all good things, it wasn’t meant to last.  Before too  long we were slogging along through loose sand which was a bit tougher on our recently-underused leg muscles.  The beach goes in front of luxury hotel after luxury hotel, some busy and some empty.  There were lots of Mexican vendors selling hats, sunglasses, jewelry, pottery, wood carvings, etc.  None were the least bit pushy.
 Our goal was a ways past the last buildings you can see in the photo above.  By the time we finally reached Wrecked At The Reef, we were SO ready for some cervezas and something to eat.  And no wonder as it turned out to be 5.25 miles from where we started, of which at least 4 miles was on the beach, most of it in loose sand.
The view from inside where we enjoyed great service, a couple orders of chicken wings, a few cervezas and even a shot of Captain Morgan, just to see if we’d like it (we did).
This is definitely a tourist place.  But the tourists were different than we’re used to.  Most of the places we’ve been, the tourists look like they’re here for a week or two.  Lots of these folks looked like they were just here for the weekend.  How can you tell the difference?  I don’t know.  Nothing I can put my finger on but there is a difference.  Maybe it’s because so many of them are younger and have young children in tow.   Anyway, these folks could easily be here just for the weekend.  It’s only a 3.5 hour drive to Phoenix.  That’s a shorter trip than we used to make from our house to Pleasant Harbor Marina in Washington where we kept our first boat.
Eventually, fortified, we made our way back home.  Sure am glad that Mark offered us rides out here for the show because it’s a LONG walk and I’m too cheap to spring for a taxi at $20 a trip (one-way).  Maybe if we didn’t have 4 one-way trips to make.  When we got back to the boat, Lulu checked her pedometer and we’d walked a total of 10.75 miles, about 8 of them in sand.  The trip, minus refueling time, took us about 4.8 hours.
We haven’t eaten out all that much so far.  The first night here, Bill & Elli took us to one of their favorite places which neither of us can now remember the name of. The food was excellent.  Lulu had something she’d never even seen before: Chiles en Nogada and really liked it.  I had Camarón Cordon Bleu.  It’s shrimp.  What’s not to like?
The day that we spent all day working on the boat, we decided to eat out as a reward and because it was easy.  We got a late start as our new friend Oscar stopped by to chat for awhile.  We headed down to the Old Port since we figured we’d be sure to find something still open.  On nothing more than “I think I read something good about this place”, we stopped at Mary’s Seafood.  Being Thursday, Mary’s, like everywhere else, was pretty much empty.  We ordered a couple cervezas and then ordered the seafood platter for two which consisted of garlicy butterflied shrimp, deep fried shrimp, garlic fish filets and deep fried fish filets.  It was all very good but, when we got back to the boat, we once again decided that most restaurant food, especially if it’s sort of spendy, leaves us pretty cold.  If this meal had cost half what it did, we’d probably think better of it.  Just didn’t seem like we got much for our money.  Mary’s certainly doesn’t make up for it in ambiance.  We resolved (again) to limit our eating out to taco stands and the like with maybe an occasional foray into a restaurant if it’s got a really good reputation.  We are going to take Mark & Barb out sometime this coming week and have asked them to pick the spot so maybe they’ll be able to show us something a little more interesting than Mary’s.
On the home front, Lulu made pizza.  And, as I’ve stated before, when we have pizza, we have it three nights in a row.  The only thing that would be better is to have it 5 nights in a row.  We bought some fresh shrimp and had that along with  olives, mushrooms, and basil on the first two.

still need to add the cheese

On the third night we used up some salami that had been languishing in the reefer since La Paz.

Buen provecho!

That pretty much brings us up to today.  Oh, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some Earth-shattering item but, if so, I’ll write about it in the next entry.  Again, sorry for being so long in writing.

About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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4 Responses to 5/26/2012 – An overdue post about Puerto Peñasco

  1. Tate says:

    Good post Steve. I too have been having trouble writing lately. Maybe its cosmic. Like the pizza and photos of the beaches. It looks so much rougher there than on the East coasts. Do people ever get to go swim out in those waters? Do they calm down sometimes?

    • sryoder says:

      The water off Puerto Peasco was really kicking up yesterday when I took that picture. It had been like that for several days by then. Yesterday we did see some folks out in the water. Not exactly swimming. More like just being tossed around or trying to body surf. It definitely wasn’t that wild when we arrived nor will it be when we leave. Otherwise, we just aren’t leaving!

  2. bud elkin says:

    The problem you are having with your writing is called “complacent writers block.” It comes from #1 being a writer, #2 from realizing finally that you are retired, and #3 that you have finally reached the chill part of your retired position. Then you finally institute the “put off until tomorrow what you could do today.”

    • sryoder says:

      Thanks Bud. I was afraid I was just being lazy. But it turns out that I’m just following the natural order of things. Because I’ve got that “put off until tomorrow…” part down!

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