Sunday, February 19, 2017

Deliver Me, Tufesa

Tufesa, Save Me...
Depressed, because of the cold and wet.  Depressed, because my country of origin has fallen into the hands of a maniac.  Depressed, because I'm feeling old and tired and useless.  Flailing about, just keeping my head above water, I send messages to friends who are cruising warm waters this winter:  Where are you? How is it going? What are your travel plans?

Slowly the replies come trickling in:  Wish you were here.  Heading to Bara de Navidad. Boat having issues.  Family arriving soon. Join us in P.V.

But schedules and expensive flight costs keep us grounded. That is until one day I checked the Cruiser's Forum and found Martin's request for crew wanted.  We'd met Martin in the dirt yard at Guaymas so we knew he was an honest guy. I replied back to him to see what his plans were.  His boat was still in the yard, he was getting her ready to launch, and he needed some crew to help him cross the Sea of Cortez and run down the coast to LaPaz.  I talked to Connie and we decided the three week itinerary would work for us.  We signed on for the cruise.  I felt a man reprieved!

Using Alaska Air miles we got our tickets, flying into Tucson Arizona and flying out from Los Cabos, Baja Sur.   A few days before our flights Martin had a change of plans that put his arrival in Guaymas five days after we were set to arrive there ourselves.  I looked out the window at the freezing rain and said, "We're going anyhow, and we'll have a little vacation in the dirt boat yard."

I then changed our return tickets to a week later so we'd have plenty of time to work our way down the coast and have a full lazy week at Cabo Pulmo.

Arriving in Tucson, we took a taxi to the Tufesa bus terminal and caught the 2:30 PM bus south.  By nightfall we were in Guaymas, exhausted after watching zombie movies in Spanish while the driver rocketed the big bus through interminable construction zones on Mexico 15 .  With a crazy exchange rate of 20 pesos per dollar, the 650 peso hotel room looked good to us.  We bolted to the OXXO just before they closed and bought beer, tequila and snacks for our own little private party at the Guaymas Inn.  We were warm. We were dry. We were back in our 2nd home, Mexico.  It felt really good.

The next day we went to the Marina Guaymas Seca, found Martin's boat, and moved aboard. The first thing I noticed was that I could not stand up straight inside the boat or under the dodger.  The clearance was about 5'11" and I'm about 6'2" tall.  It took me a week to train myself to stop bashing my head on solid objects overhead.  The vee berth was nice and long... comfortable too.  Outside the boat, I walked the yard - sockless, Hawaiian shirt, shorts - and found old friends working on their boats.  The first evening we crashed a bonfire party and stayed late drinking wine and playing music.  The second evening I built our own fire pit next to the boat and we had another party with plenty of old buddies and lots of music and talk.

We fed the sheep in the yard, visited with the old guys who never seem to leave the yard, had our teeth cleaned at the local dentist (Sylvia), and made forays into town for fresh vegetables and beer.  When in town or on the street we were often asked about our new president Lord Voldemort.  We'd shake our heads and apologize.  Then we'd have a conversation about whose president was worse, He Who Shall Not Be Named or their new guy Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI party.  Everyone would shake their heads, shrug, and laugh a little wistfully.
Taking the tour at the Guaymas pearl farm.

 We cleaned the vessel's interior, wiping away the accumulated dust and oiling the wood work.  Joli' Elle (the boat) is a 70's era Hallberg Rassy Rasmus 35, full keel, sturdy build.  It was strange to me to be in the yard, just living each day without a big task list ahead of me.  Usually we'd be on our boat and be extremely busy with our checklist.  Now, with time on my hands, I could wander the yard and chew the fat with the neighbors who were all knee deep in difficult messy, projects.  Meanwhile, I could hear Connie up there in Joli' Elle playing the ukulele and singing.   It was heaven.
Hallberg Rassy Rasmus 35

Martin arrived and after washing the boat, installing the Genoa, and finishing a few small tasks he arranged the launch.  We splashed on a Friday.  The boat floated but we had one small problem.  The engine did not start. As the tide went out, stranding us in the slipway, we started troubleshooting the fuel system.  An hour later we found that the Walbro electric diesel fuel lift pump wasn't working. This is the same kind of pump I tried to use last January when I replaced my fuel system, and like that pump, the rubber bellows had disintegrated from the heat of the Sonoran desert.  Martin went off in search of a replacement while Connie and I stayed with the boat, sinking lower and lower in the slipway as the tide ran out.  With perseverance, Martin found a replacement pump and by nightfall we had the engine running.

Fonatur Marina after hurricane Newton
As it turns out, the boat had been out of the water for three years.  We crossed our fingers and hoped the severe heat hadn't compromised other systems.  The morning high tide found us motoring across to the Fonatur Marina where we topped off the diesel tank and found a slip where we could stay while provisioning in town. Last summer's hurricane had wiped out all the south facing slips but we were able to get a north side slip with no electric power.  Loaded with rice, beans, and veggies, we finally left Guaymas and headed out into the open waters of the Sea of Cortez.

Thus we spent the first third of our 2017 Mexico holiday!  While it wasn't the most luxurious 10 days, at least we were staying warm, eating well, and not worrying about what was going on up north in our home country.

Next up, the voyage.

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