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Warm Weather in Mexico

This is a long one to catch up so have a cup of coffee…

Sea of Cortez
With slow or no internet in the Sea of Cortez I have not posted anything lately. We have spent nearly a month cruising up and down inside this area. In the beginning we had some 15-20 knot northerlies that made for some bumpy but not unreasonable seas. We have seen many flying rays, a mom teaching her calf how to breach and many sea lions.

We made a stop at Los Islotes just north of Isla Partida to snorkle with the Sea Lions. Unfortunately, the law was change last year when a swimmer, probably doing something stupid, was bitten. Now, all swimmers, snorkelers or divers must be accompanied by a guide. It was Easter Week so we could not find a boat that wasn’t full. The officials were very nice and said we could stay as long as we like and be in our dink but no swimming. Nevertheless we had an incredible encounter. We putted upwind then drifted down the sides 4 times and all the sea lions came to us. They came right to the dink with one even resting his head on our tube to say hello. As we drove upwind at 1 knot they followed and jumped and played. They loved to swim through the bubbles of the prop wash. One rule they have here and El Pulmo Reef is no two stroke engines. I know when I swim behind a PWC or 2-cycle outboard I can smell and taste the fuel in the water so this must be why.

Cameron and I had to head back to La Paz to drop Emmy off so she could fly home and “fix kids” at Woodinville Pediatrics for a couple weeks. While in La Paz Cam and I went with Punta Baja a tour company to swim with the whale sharks. My friend Jim Champoux and I swam (in a cage) with Great White sharks in South Africa so my expectations were low. The Great White encounter was brief and murky but still very fun. This time was completely different. Mario our guide and Mica our captain found whale sharks and we swam or “jumped” as they call it twice. The first Jump was with a 7 meter youngster mostly dark with white spots. We swam alongside for more than 5 minutes close enough to touch (though not allowed). The second Jump was with a very young almost white and spotted 5 meter beauty. We were with this whale shark for more than half an hour. It stopped several times to feed where it went almost vertical opened its mouth and strained the tasty plankton flushing water out through his gills (vents?). This is one of those times when swimming eye to eye wondering what it is thinking. I was thinking this is unbelievable and we need to protect them. Another interesting fact is that the pattern on every whale shark is unique like a fingerprint.

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Cam and I without our admiral and buddy Emmy, decided to head back north stopping at Bahia San Gabriel and Isla San Francisco. This time the winds are 2 knots, seas like butter and temps around 78-84f. For me that is just perfect. I stood on the bow of our beautiful N62 chariot Roxia and thanked God for my good fortune. I still am not sure I am worthy but I am trying to live my dream gratefully.

We made it as far as Puerto Escondido which is a beautiful and protected marina 12 nm south of Loreto. They have a great deal where you can rent a car brought to the Marina at 9:00am each morning from the Loreto airport. The cost was $40 US including all taxes and insurance for Mexico. We decided to check out the town of Loreto and stock up on a few food items.

We are now back in San Jose del Cabo an found our great boat cleaner Gomer. He washed the boat and today we are going to splurge on Roxia and have her hand waxed. I can’t tell you the price because it is so low.

Puerto Los Cabos

We pulled into Puerto Los Cabos Marina 1030 on 3-19 after a 23 hour run from Bahia Santa Maria. We had about 24 kt winds in the morning and thought it would be a bit rough.  Turns out after a couple hours the winds eased to 12-15 and the seas calmed to 3′ swell on about 10 seconds. That was way better than the forecast and we had a comfortable run.  We made the turn and the sun came up. 85 degrees! We finally feel like we are in Mexico.

The first slip they had us try was 20′ wide for a 19′ beam. We would have been fine if we removed the fenders. We tied up and they decided we should move to the high rent district. It is very nice on S dock.  Power, water and room to move. I think we will stay a few days.

Our neighbors in Turtle Bay

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We had a rider.

Heading South looking for Sun

Now that we have our paperwork in order and time on our hands it is time to find the captain some warm water again.

Pointing south again we head back to our friends at Marina Coral to clear back into Mexico using our new hard earned TIP (Temporary Import Permit). We will spend a couple days in Ensenada and then head to La Paz with a couple stops on the way.

Emmy and Cam have never done an overnight so we will have to work out procedures and watch lists. I think we will start with them working together and me alone. Once they are a little more comfortable we can start more standard watches.

Upon our return, we met two delivery captains bringing a 58′ Solaris (I think) sailboat made in Italy. It was a gorgeous blue hull with carbon rig. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture! We spent the day swapping stories and lying about how cool we were. Normal captain stuff.  They are from Charleston South Carolina and really fun and knowledgable.  Alex and Dan. Dan calls himself jokingly the worlds greatest sailor. He has more than 200,000 miles delivering  boats all over the world. What fun!

San Diego USA

Will taking a turn at the helm on the way from Ensenada to San Diego.

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Roxia made it back to the USA for the first time since 2011.  We were able to find a good slip location thanks to John Russell on NordSail One at Point Loma Marina. We learned we would have to leave Mexico because of the existing TIP’s in my last post about a week before Yacht Express arrived. I decided that since we had to be in San Diego I would purchase 12 new Lifeline Batteries at my supplier in Seattle and drive my truck down south.  Because I was driving anyway, we totally loaded my truck with all the gear from our previous boat stashed in my garage. I left my truck at my brother’s house near Dana Point and Devin drove me down to San Diego airport to pick up the Admiral (Emmy), my son Will and nephew Cameron. Going way beyond the salesman relationship Devin drove us to Ensenada to meet Roxia.  We could not take my truck into Mexico or we would have to pay duty on all the batteries.

Now that we were in San Diego we (mostly Will and Cameron) unloaded 2,000 pounds of batteries (old) off and 2,000 pounds of batteries (new) back on Roxia.  I spent most of the time in the battery bay up front cleaning and rewiring everything.  With everything out I could scrub the bilge then apply dielectric grease on all the connections. I hope I don’t have to do this again. The three of us couldn’t move the next day.

I made a wood lever to help move my through hulls and it also worked perfect to tighten the wing nuts on the battery hold downs.

With the tanks now full of water and fuel our waterline is down to the anti-foul. This is almost 8″ lower than when everything was close to empty for transport.

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Being in San Diego was also fun because Will had friends from California visit and a friend visiting from Seattle, Mari Rossi also stopped by with friends. Will had to leave back for graduate school and all the visitors left so we are down to three. We used LimeBike electric bikes to tour San Diego and pick up last minute supplies.

Ensenada, Mexico

We had an amazing experience with the “sinking” (on purpose) ship DYT Yacht Express. After the great load process onto the ship in Brisbane we headed to Ensenada for the offload only one month later.  Not only was the shipment quicker than we could have done driving Roxia it was a little less expensive.  The big negative is you don’t have the experience of crossing the ocean or visiting the remote islands of the South Pacific. I think given the choices for us this was the right decision. We will spend time on the west coast from Mexico to Canada and be able to visit friends and family along the way.

This picture was taken in Papeete Tahiti while Yacht Express was making a stop on the way to Ensenada.

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You can see Roxia on the Port side behind a 150′ vessel.

These pictures show the process to re-float the boats prior to driving off.

When we arrived in Mexico we found that two previous owners of Roxia had active Temporary Import Permits (TIP). You cannot obtain a new TIP with an existing one so the customs officials did not know how this could happen.  Because we could not be in Mexico on another persons permit, the only remedy was to apply for exit papers which proves we were leaving Mexico. At that point we were able reprint the newest active TIP first then cancel  the TIP. Then we started over with the second permit.  Because it is “not possible” to have two active TIPs in the system we spent a great deal of time in the customs office. With exit papers in-hand, two canceled TIPs we were able to obtain a new TIP under our name. However, because we had exit papers we had to leave Mexico and clear back into the USA. Fito and Juan at Marina Coral were invaluable in helping us through the process all for $60 US!

While waiting between customs office visits we met through a mutual friend Tomas Fernandez.  Tomas with his two sons Tomas and Diego own and operate two shipyards in Ensenada. Baja Naval is for vessels under 85 feet or 75 tons and Gran Peninsula is for larger vessels up to 200′. Tomas (Sr.) and Rocio own N6219 Alamir. We became fast friends and spent the better part of two days with the two of them.  We had tours of both shipyards and then were treated to three hours at the location of their passion, a center for Downs, deaf or Autistic children. The downs children bake Empanadas which they sell to markets and earn money for their families. Tomas provided the warehouse and the necessary improvements for a bakery and rooms for learning. Also in the facility children from all backgrounds learn to play orchestra instruments and give concerts.  We attended a practice session and spoke with the instructors on one of their breaks.  About 200 children are active at the facility. The gifted teachers were a pure joy to meet and we could easily see their love for Tomas.

To top it off Tomas and Rocio joined us for dinner and visit on Roxia.  We made friends forever and confirmed again how close the Nordhavn family is.

After all the formalities of customs were complete we headed to San Diego and 8 hours later we were back in USA and then able to return to Mexico on our TIP for ten years.

A day in Brisbane

I thought we had a pretty cool ferry system in Washington until we started spending time in Australia. On our last trip in October Emmy and I spent a week in Sydney and spent a good bit of time on the water. Now after loading Roxia onto (into?) the good ship Yacht Express, Devin and I spent the day on the River in Brisbane riding ferries taking in the sites.

Roxia was celebrity of the day making the local Moreton Bay Cruisers Facebook Page as we were headed to meet Yacht Express.

I saw this sign on the ferry and thought it might be a good Nordhavn option.

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Roxia Heads to North American

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What an Amazing process…Dockwise Yacht Transport. Devin and I arrived at out designated meeting time. The ship had been submerged to the load level.  Only two boats would be departing the ship in Brisbane then Roxia would be the first boat to load in followed by twelve others.  Henry the Load Master keeps everyone informed on VHF 17. When you follow his requests everything is smooth. Devin efficiently handled lines and fenders while I had the easy job of not hitting anything.

Once all the boats are in place all engines must be shut down before divers get in the water. The ballast is pumped out slowly and the divers place keel blocks and supports. Once supported with deck dry, supports are welded and all boats are strapped to the deck.

Prior to load up, I spent time in Bundaberg finishing up projects.  Devin flew in a week later and we cruised 200 miles south to Brisbane.

Heading Down Under

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I’m headed back to Roxia today after two months away. Roxia has been in the care of Brett Hensler and staff at Bundaberg Marina. By the time I get there, she will have new bottom paint, PropSpeed, a new PSS shaft seal and main cutlass bearing.  I have a number of projects to complete before the arrival of Nordhavn salesman extraordinaire Devin Zwick in a week. Devin and I will take Roxia south to Brisbane to load onto Yacht Express. Here’s the project I kept busy with while away:

Roxia Sign Boards- Because Roxia is named the same as my grandparents 40′ Wheeler, I wanted to try to tie the two eras together.  My son-in-law Bobby matched the gold leaf typestyle on  the transom of the original Roxia by hand drawing. Then my son Will digitized the letters so I could print them the 4″ size I wanted. Overall size turned out 6″ by 28″. My goal was to make the signboard look hand carved so not too perfect and a little old fashioned. Someday I may write all the details how to achieve this result. In a nutshell I have about 40 hours in it from milling rough sawn teak to the dimensions, hand carving the letters, creating “crinkle” finish gold and finally 10 coats of varnish (6 on the back). For now the pictures here will have to do. Suffice it to say it would never make sense to pay someone to make these because it ended up about $16 per square inch! I wanted to be able to remove the signs to refinish so I used Weld-Mount ¼”-20 female standoffs and silicone bronze flathead bolts.

 

The Decision is Made

After a lot of soul-searching we made the decision to ship Roxia to Ensenada instead of taking a year or so to cruise home.  Why then did we buy a boat in Australia and not come back through the South Pacific?  We were planning to do just that.  As it turns out Roxia was not used much in the past number of years.  It was used more as a condo than a ocean crosser.  It is still totally capable of the trip but there are so many of the “comfort” type systems that I want to test and repair that it just didn’t make sense to do that from afar.  I can complete so many of these tasks while it is nearby our home in Seattle.  There will be time to cross an ocean in our future.

We chose DYT Yacht Transport for delivery from Brisbane to Ensenada. Here is a video of the process. Yacht Express

I will miss the islands of the South Pacific but believe this is the right decision.  We should arrive in Ensenada around the first week of March…give or take.

Back in the USA

We finished our five week “working” adventure in Australia and have returned to the chilly Northwest.  We spent the first week getting Roxia set up then went on a three week shakedown cruise finishing with one more week in Sydney. Roxia is safe on the hard in Bundaberg Port Marina under the watchful eye of Brett Hensler and Donna Pressler. Roxia survived the first 100kph wind with no issues.  All the boats on the hard are kept in steel cradles and then the boat is strapped down.IMG_3615

We did have a few issues that we had to repair on the fly.  The worst of them was the hydraulic cooling pump connection failed and we didn’t have a spare.  We were three days from nowhere and needed the pump to be able to use the stabilizers.

 

These pictures show the sheared off teeth of the connection between hydraulic motor and water pump as well as the three versions of my solution. First, using cut up pieces of hose, zip ties (V1), then hose clamps (V2) and finally hose with hose clamps and a zip tie to take up some of the torsional force (V3). V1 lasted 20 minutes, V2 lasted 3 hours and finally V3 lasted more than two weeks. I need to come up with a better long term solution. If I can build a bracket to keep the motor and pump aligned the old style may work. The other problem is the pump has slotted head screws instead of hex head. That is the worst invention ever. It is impossible to hold a screwdriver in 115 degree heat in rough seas to change the impeller. At least that is a simple solution.

All in all this was a great trip. We did some cruising of the Whitsundays and the Curtis Coast (down to Bundaberg). Lady Musgrave is a reef about 35 nm off the coast. There is an opening in the reef deep enough to drive through. We cruised there for our last night before Bundy and we are glad we did.  After nervously motoring inside avoiding bommies, we anchored and took the dinghy to the tiny little island which is the part of the reef above water. We walked through mangroves with hundreds of nesting birds. The sound was amazing with all the songs and probably yelling at us to get out…  Back on the beach we snorkeled in the reef. A tortoise swam with us and we watched a Blue Spotted Ray rest under a rock.

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Here are some pictures from our cruising.

 

As we were cruising I was amazed at some of the patches of algae that we saw. I’m not sure if this is from the warm water or if it is normal for this area but the patches were vast.  Here is a picture when we were many miles offshore.

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Large amounts of what appeared to be algae

Coal is a huge export from Australia. The controversy is starting to heat up regarding the use, mining and export of coal but these two pictures show the number of coal freighters we saw in both Mackay and Gladstone.

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AIS and Radar split screen.

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Visual approach to anchorage.

It was fun spending time in Sydney. The ferry service is awesome. With the Opal card you can take the public ferry, bus and train routes. There is a discount with the card and a 15.40 max per day use so once you hit that amount everything is free.  On Sundays the max is under $2!

 

Now the question is: Do we ship Roxia home or drive her home? The big question is if she is ready to make the voyage or can we get her ready before the required (by ATO) April 20 departure date.

Stay tuned.