Sorry for the radio silence. We’ve been relying on the free wifi provided by Marina Costa Baja since we returned. The first week or so it was working great. Then it suddenly started taking longer and longer to load a webpage. Things happened fast enough first thing in the morning but, as 8:00 came and went, the data transfer speed dropped sometimes to the point that I’d just shut the computer off and forget about it. My suspicion is that the slowdown is due to the return of the snowbirds who don’t bother to consider they’re sharing bandwidth before downloading their favorite movies from Netflix. Anyway, it’s a fight I just can’t win so the other day I recharged my banda ancha (cellular modem from Telcel). It’s expensive at $500 pesos ($40 USD) for 30 days or 3 GB, whichever comes first but at least it’s fast and pretty reliable and not affected by other peoples’ bad habits.
So, it looks like we got back to La Paz about 10 days ago. What’s been going on since then? First off, I’m happy to report that Siempre Sabado suffered not at all during our three-month absence. Unlike our neighbor’s boat:
Our neighbor left for the States maybe a week or so before we did. When we left the faded purple tatters you see in the photo was actually an intact, if not new, nylon Kelty rainfly of some kind. A few big-ish winds hit La Paz while we were gone but this is mostly a result of exposure to Baja’s unrelenting UV rays. Fortunately, the only covers we left exposed were either cotton canvas or Sunbrella and came through the summer looking pretty much the same as when we left. There really wasn’t much to indicate that we’d been gone for 3 months. Even the bottom of the boat was clean thanks to an arrangement we made with Luis to clean it as needed once a month.
It took us a couple of days to get things more or less back to normal. Had to put the dodger and sun shades back up, stow the piles of stuff we brought down from the U.S., restock the fridge, etc. The only almost casualty I’ve discovered so far was the engine (ulp!) I decided to start it up since it’d been idle since we pulled in to Costa Baja back in late May. Checked the oil in the engine and the transmission, opened the cooling water thru-hull, put the throttle in its START position, turned the key, pressed the button for the glow plugs for 10 seconds, pressed the starter button and was rewarded with…
Nothing, nada, zilch. Not a click, not a groan, the ammeter didn’t even show that there was any extra load on the battery like it would if the starter was trying to turn but couldn’t. Knowing it was a completely illogical thing to do, I turned the battery switch to BOTH to provide a little more juice and tried again. Same result: NOTHING. Naturally I tried 3 or 4 more times before pulling out the multimeter and the engine manual with its wiring diagram. It was obvious from the clicking sound that I was getting juice at least as far as the glow plug solenoid. My best guess was that the starter solenoid had crapped out. Most likely a completely open coil or contacts that weren’t making contact for some reason. To find out for sure, I attached the meter’s leads to ground and to the “output” side of the coil. Then I reached up to push the two buttons you have to push to start the motor and…
THE FREAKIN’ THING STARTED!!!
Took me completely by surprise. The throttle was in the “idle” position which is usually not conducive to an easy start. But this was a really easy start. I barely had the button depressed before the engine started up. I had to pull the meter leads off and I was awfully glad that nothing got tangled up in the moving parts. Since then I’ve started the engine every day and it’s always started flawlessly. I have no idea what the problem was. Maybe the solenoid didn’t realize we were back yet and was sleeping on the job. Whatever it was, I’m glad it’s gone although it’s always a little unnerving to have mysteries like that lurking around.
The day after we got back we got some of the effects of Tropical Storm Octave in the form of torrential rainfall for a few hours. We had driven Flipper down to the marina district so we could pass some of our imported goodies off to Rick and Jasna on s/v Calypso. After finally finding a parking space that could accommodate us and then finding Rick and Jasna, we were inside Flipper trying to figure out who’s stuff was who’s when the rain hit. It was pouring down so hard that we had to close the windows and door. It was stiflingly hot inside as a result. Sweat just rolled off us while we divvy’d everything up. Afterwards we decided to walk up to The Super Burro for some lunch. The rain had let up a teeny bit but the intersections were flooded and the streets were rivers. We figured it was best not to think about what might be in the water we were wading through. By the time we reached the restaurant we were soaked.
We spent several days moving things from the Dolphin down to the boat and vice-versa. We also made one more trip into town in Flipper to get some groceries. But, after that we decided to put her in storage until we were ready to return to Oregon in December. There’s a very secure storage yard out by the airport. They’re not super cheap at $70/month for our little rig but all the storage spaces are covered and the security seems to be first rate. Worth it to safeguard our little land yacht.
We’re getting ourselves re-accustomed to boat life (didn’t take long at all) and being vehicle-less in La Paz (also didn’t take long). It was actually quite a relief to put Flipper away. Too many parking spots are too small for her. Plus we confined ourselves to the main roads which meant that we didn’t get to any stores except the big supermarkets. Much more “us” to be on foot.
So “What’s next for the Siempre Sabado crew?” you might be asking. Well, we’re not naive enough to think that plans we make today will necessarily work out in the long run but that doesn’t keep us from making them. We have a couple of dates that are more or less solid. These will dictate our movements for at least a couple of months. Our first granddaughter (2nd grandchild) has a due date of January 7th and we definitely plan to be in Oregon for that. So, we’re thinking we’ll probably get Flipper out of storage and start for Oregon around December 10th. It’ll probably take us 4-5 days to get back up to San Diego. Then we’re figuring another 5 days or so to get up to Silverton, putting us there less than a week before Christmas. We need to start back down this way around the end of January as we need to be here in February to renew our Residente Temporal visas. We think we’re going to drive down to San Carlos/Guaymas when we return and then fly over to La Paz, leaving Flipper in storage over there. Why? I’ll explain in a minute.
Lulu is planning on going back up to Oregon when Cody’s maternity leave runs out, maybe sometime around the end of April, to spare our granddaughter from daycare for a few more months. We might cruise up to San Carlos sometime in March/April and she’d head to Cody’s from there while I stay with the boat until June or July. Alternately, we may stay in La Paz and I’ll single-hand the boat up to San Carlos sometime in late spring or early summer. Once there, I’d put the boat in storage on the hard, jump in Flipper and head back up to Oregon for the summer. Even though it’s harder on the boat being stored on the hard than it is if it’s stored in the water, we’re planning to leave her stored for what could be up to a year and dry storage is SO much more economical than wet.
Why would we leave Siempre Sabado stored for so long? Well, our plans right now call for an epic road trip to commence around September of next year. We’d enter Mexico at Nogales, proceed down the entire west coast, across to the Yucatán Peninsula and then up the Gulf coast to the Texas border. Then we’d turn south and start on an inland loop going through many of the older colonial cities down probably as far as Mexico City, then back up to Texas. At that point, if we’re still feeling it, we think we might do a road trip through some of the USA focusing on the Gulf states and the east coast where we’ve never really been before in any significant way. When our giant road trip is finally over we think we’ll leave Flipper at Cody & Scott’s house and head Siempre Sabado south along the west coast of mainland Mexico and Central America and finally go through the Panama Canal to explore the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Now’s the time to set up those office pools to bet on how much, if any, of this plan will actually come to fruition.