3/27/2013 – Day 2 at Ballandra

After the breakfast dishes were done we got in the dinghy and went ashore. Our plan was to hike the trail that ultimately would take you to Bahia Salinas on the other side of the island. That’s quite a ways away and we had no intention of making the whole trip but we did want to see a little bit of the interior of the island.

The hike definitely didn’t disappoint. The trail follows the dry riverbed part of the time and goes off on its own in some places. When it leaves the riverbed it’s marked by rock cairns along the way. It starts out on a wide plain that is covered with desert flora, all of it blooming at the moment. The flowers are tiny but their colors are vivid. As we proceeded on we passed through an area that had the coolest grass. It was the color of a lion and looked like some kind of thick fur. It laid down in these waves that made it look even more like fur. The grass itself was very fine and as soft as it looked. And, as always, I do have photos but you’ll have to wait until I get a decent internet connection to see them.

As we got further up the arroyo, the walls closed in until we were hiking through a fairly narrow pass. The cliff walls on one side were bare rock and dotted with lots and lots of caves. I could just picture some stone agers peeking out at us, wondering what in the hell we were. After that the trail widened again. The vegetation was continually changing. I’m not sure if we’re just here at a good time or if it’s always like this but, for a desert island, it was really pretty lush.

But, after an hour or so, we tired of trudging through the gravelly riverbed and decided to turn back. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours.

When we got back to the bay, we decided to walk along the beach a bit and see what kinds of shells we’d find. There was a panga beached down the way a bit. He probably brought some tourists over for the day. We said “Buenos dias” to the panguero as we passed and he returned our greeting. Then he called us back. His huge outboard motor was in the raised position and he couldn’t get it to lower. It’s all hydraulic but there’s a screw-headed valve that needed to be loosened to let him lower the motor. It took a regular slot-head screwdriver but the one he had was too small and he wondered if we had a bigger one. His was just chewing the (probably aluminum) screw’s slot up. I looked at what he had and at what he needed and wasn’t really sure I had the right sized screwdriver but I told him I’d check. Lulu continued walking the beach and I rowed back to the boat to get my tools. I got the 2 largest slot-head screwdrivers I had but they didn’t really look all that large. I also got a really large screwdriver head that fits on a socket wrench. Maybe that’s do it. I rowed back ashore.

The panguero, who’s name was Jesus, wasn’t too encouraged by my selection of tools. The socket wrench screwdriver was way too big. The others, although larger than his, were still too small. But he kept trying. Unfortunately, he was making a mess of the screw head. But he had to do something. I mean, he was going nowhere with the motor in the raised position. After a bunch of trying, we both decided that the tools we had were not going to do the job. I apologized for not being able to help. He thanked me anyway and told me that he had radioed another panga who was now on the way. I wished him luck and wandered away. Just then I had a thought. Maybe I did have a tool that would do the trick. I didn’t mention it to Jesus as I didn’t want to get his hopes up. I rowed back out to Siempre Sabado and climbed aboard. I rifled through my tool bag but couldn’t find what I was looking for. I knew it was there somewhere. I emptied most of the bag but still couldn’t find it. But wait! I have another tool box that holds larger and seldom used tools. So I moved aft to the ‘garage’ (aka the quarterberth). Pulled out the computer, pulled out my canvas bag of saws, pulled out the ditty bag, pulled out my lifejacket and the small box of wire ties, pulled out the small file folder box, pulled out the large file folder box. Now. mind you, all this stuff had to be put somewhere so the settee seat and table top as well as the foot space under the table was quickly filling up. I pulled out the large tackle box, pulled out two smaller plastic storage bins and finally, there’s the toolbox. I pulled it out and cleared a spot on the table to set it down. Opened it up and there it was, my hammer-driven impact driver! If anything is going to work, this will.

I rowed back over to Jesus’ panga where he was discouragedly hammering away at the motor trying to get something, anything to give. I pulled out the driver and fitted a nice big screwdriver head in it. Jesus looked fairly impressed as I was now holding what looked like a very husky screwdriver. But he really didn’t know what it was so the full impact (heh, heh) hadn’t hit him yet. I tried to explain but ultimately chose to show him instead. I fitted the screwdriver to what was left of the slot in the screw and gave the driver a good whack on the end with the ball pien hammer I’d also thought to bring. Unfortunately, it didn’t feel like anything loosened. I was a little light on my taps because I didn’t want to do some permanent damage. I gave the hammer and impact driver to Jesus and he tried but got the same results. His friend in the other panga arrived about then but he didn’t have any great ideas or tools either. About all he could do was tow Jesus back to Loreto but they both had paying clients who were going to be mighty disappointed and I’m sure both pangueros would take a financial hit if it came to that. Finally, I decided to just go for it. The screw head was so chewed up now that it couldn’t be hurt much more. I put the driver in the slot, or what was left of it, and gave the other end a mighty whack. Ok, that’s maybe overstating it a bit but I did hit it hard enough to feel the driver mechanism work. I looked and the screw had turned a little. I gave a few more until I’d turned the screw a full 90 degrees. The I said, “Jesus, mira!” He looked and saw that the screw had indeed turned. It was now loose enough that he could turn it with his screwdriver. He gave it another 1/4 turn or so and the motor slowly dropped into the lower position. He did whatever else he had to do and then tried out the hydraulic controls. The motor obediently traveled from full down to full up position and back again. You never saw such a huge grin as came across Jesus’ face. He said, “Muchas, muchas, MUCHAS gracias!” He’d never seen an impact driver like that before and was pretty impressed. He told me that he runs clients all over these islands and he’d keep his eye out for me, implying that I’ve got a permanent amigo. As Lulu and I were launching the dinghy he came running up and handed me a nice navy blue watch cap with a rooster fish embroidered on it. I happily accepted it and thanked him. He thanked me again and we rowed away. I watched him take the panga out for a short test run and then, an hour or so later when his charges were back aboard, watched him motor off to Loreto, all systems GO. When I think of all the pangueros I’ve read and heard about over the years, who’ve helped sailors, usually by towing them off the rocks or beach or securing their boats when they drag anchor, this was a pretty small return gesture that cost me nothing but a little time. But it saved Jesus’ day and made mine.

Of course, I still had all that stuff on the settee to put away. Ah, well….


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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2 Responses to 3/27/2013 – Day 2 at Ballandra

  1. Leslie Sanderson says:

    YOU ARE SO AWESOME! This is how the entire world should work….and it WOULD work, if more people would act the way you do with the people you and Lulu meet!
    Good job, Esteban, el mecanico! Leslie

  2. Dani says:

    You are such a great story teller and had me going with this one. So glad you got the screw loose. Digging into the caprails I can feel the despair he must have felt as he stripped the screw head. What joy to have it working again.

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