Sunday, December 28, 2014

Boat maintenance in exotic locations

This season we have experienced more than our share of boat maintenance.   I know, I know, "poor Rob and Nancy....  Living it up in Mexico, and complaining about a few boat chores"  I can just hear a teeny little violin (not even a cello) being played right now...

When you start using a boat more, you would expect that you would have more stuff to fix.
I get that, but for one reason or another, this year has been by far the most..... challenging.
Maybe being 17 years old means that Shindig has become a surly teenager.

When we put the boat to bed in June we  usually spend two weeks decommissioning the boat for summer in La Paz.  All the sails come off, anything bolted to the rails gets put down below.  There is a long list of chores that we power through in the heat of June so that we feel good about leaving the boat for 4 months during hurricane season.

The recommissioning process in the Fall usually unwinds all that was done in June; then we can apply proper fixes to things that broke the season before and make a few upgrades for the next season.

I always expect there to be a few bumps along the way but not like the Baja 1000.

Here is our recommissioning list and maintenance log so far. This list is exported from a handy to-do application on my iPad.  It just keeps reminding me of all the things to do, as I juggle these projects with the proper amount of socializing required of me.  I won't go into more details, but you might say that it is a wonder that Shindig has moved from the docks in La Paz,got a few fun days in the beautiful islands nearby, and is now in the marina at La Cruz.  And that Nancy is still aboard and not flying out of here.

Let's just say that I am ready for the New Year and hopefully more sailing and less boat maintenance.

Recommissioning list  (what you do normally in the Fall to get ready for a Season)

Above Deck
Inspect for hurricane damage (bent stanchion, lost tricolor lens, broken dock line)
Put Diesel fuel in jugs
Get Dinghy fuel
Replace dinghy fuel filter
Mark anchor chain at 50 ft increments
Install fishing rod holders
Install lifesling
Install engine hoist
Refill scuba tank
Remount Lifting harness on outboard
Unlock dinghy lock
Inflate dinghy
Wash dinghy chaps
Make body strap for new hookah I can use for cleaning the bottom and sides of the boat 
Polish and install outboard motor lock
Lube outboard steering and throttle, inspect plugs
Re-rig all halyards
Bend on jib
Bend on main
Add chafe discs to outhaul
Install board racks
Put up bimini
Install solar panels
Test output of solar panels
Clean out aft lazzerette- cleaning supplies
Test hookah
Rig outhaul and move line above boom light

Below deck
Inspect and replace zincs as needed
Place oil pads in bilge
Put in new galley water filter
Check fan for battery box
Water maker - remove and replace RO elements
Fit new damage control pump impeller
Lube aft fans
Install new raw water impeller on Onan
Flush raw water and fresh water side of Onan with barnacle buster
Zinc in heat exchanger - Perkins
Flush raw water and fresh water side of Perkins with barnacle buster
New coolant for "Perky"
Flush raw water side of Perky
New raw water impeller on Perkins
Engine and generator vacuum brake inspect
Transmission cooler service
Lube steering cables
Test Generator - not getting to RPM - 95 volts and 52 to 54 HZ - white smoke
Drain shocked water from tank
Backup computer and photos to server and external HDD
Check A/C
New bilge pump impeller
Turn on refer and inspect for freon leaks
Flush generator with barnacle buster
Flush Perkins with barnacle buster
Inspect and tighten Allen bolts on shaft coupling
Inspect engine batteries- voltage differential
Service all strainers
Test bow thruster
Test sailing instruments and radar
Test VHF
Test Ham Radio
Test Pactor modem
Test navigation lights

General and Unexpected Maintenance
Generator -  remove exhaust system and repair blockage
Generator – make new exhaust manifold gaskets
Generator – clean and pressure test heat exchanger
Generator - clean head for exhaust gasket
Generator - exhaust tube weld patch
Generator - Retest generator for water leaks
Generator - Touch up paint for Onan near water pump
Generator - backside and pan cleanup
Generator - heat exchanger cleaning and paint
Generator - mixing elbow cleaning and paint
Generator - exhaust manifold cleaning and paint
Generator - Reinstall generator sound box
Generator – Raw water pump leaking – replace with spare
Generator - Remove failed heat exchanger – replace
Generator - drill out drain cock for generator coolant

Install new dinghy transom guard
Fix red LEDs in electrical panel for sockets, water heater and microwave
Water maker – diverter valve failed - re plumb without diverter valve
Water maker - install new boost pump and test
Aft head leaking - pinhole in hose – replace 8 feet of hose (Yucky job)
Fix port deck fitting that was broken off. – fill and paint
Install new boom light
Replace lost tri color lens
Touch up paint on boom vang
Paint thru-hull handles
Replace failed aft cabin fan
Replace failed thruhull for generator raw water
Fix green washdown hose
Paint outboard flushing device - rusted
Re adjust belt and pulley on refer
House alternator is misbehaving – measure output and monitor
Pressure switch for fresh water failed – replace
Pressure pump weeping from bottom – rebuild pump
Clean switch connections on primary winches – port side intermittent
Clean corrosion on the transmission CV joint and paint
Replace failing Perkins exhaust hose 2.5 ft
Paint and install new exhaust mixing elbow on Perkins
Replace mater maker RO  elements and test
Replace failed bilge pump
Replace failed AC recirculation pump
Replace failed sump pumps
Install torsion springs on door latches that are broken
Fix chicken loop on kiteboarding harness
Rebuild spare generator raw water pump
Fix bent stanchion – gift from Hurricane Odile
Replace aft head manual pump
Firmware update for solar controller
Replace failed alternator cooling fan
Replace corroded stern shower H/C handles
Lube primary winches
Replace failed 24v alternator
Service clickers on both fishing poles
Replace hot water tank pressure relief valve

Install 24v fan at nav station
Install Wichard folding pad eye on mast for dingy hoist

Missing Tricolor lens after Hurricane Odile
Going up the 70 ft mast is needed for this photo

Replacement of the RO elements for the water maker.

Restriction found in the generator exhaust

Pressure testing the generator heat exchanger - FAIL

Two fried alternators, leaking pressure relief valve and failed heat exchanger.  Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On to Mainland Mexico

The Watch Schedule for our Passage to the Mainland 
It was time to go, and Shindig's departure date was set for the day after Nancy's orchestra concert. There was a nice Northerly wind forecast for our departure window, and we agreed to try to sail from La Paz straight to Isla Isabel, about 300 miles.  We were happy to have our sailing friend, Mike Gordon aboard so we could show him some new spots as well as share in the night watches and chores.  Mike and his wife, Katie, are planning to do a similar crossing in a few weeks, so that both boats can play together on the Mainland.

Mom and Dad Novak escorted us out the Channel and north towards the Islands.
Mike and Capt'n Rob ready for some strenuous sailing...Yes, they are barefoot.

We tried a new lure made by John, on SV TimePiece.  He had guaranteed we'd catch a Dorado...and that we did!
Nancy's meal plans were happily altered as we now had fresh dorado for dinners.
Turns out Mike also likes to cook (or do dishes).
A nice sunrise on our passage towards Isla Isabel

Nancy on the SUP at Isla Isabel

Isla Isabel: Described as the Galapagas Islands of Mexico
Sparsely populated by people, densely populated by birds
A panoramic shot from the top of the hill, overlooking the Fish camp and both anchorages
Blue footed Booby 

The only chick we saw during our hike.  Most birds we saw were keeping their eggs safe.
Nancy, waterbottle and FitBit at the top of the island

One of thousands of Frigate birds on the Island 
Mike and his bird friends

Deep Red Throat of a Frigate Bird 

We had to watch our step on the hike as there were dozens of Iguanas afoot
Surf and Turf aboard Shindig
Dorado, Chicken, Quinoa and Vegies

After checking in with the Port Captain in Chacala, we go exploring

First land fall on the Pacific Mexican Coast : Chacala, a pretty palapa-lined beach
Dinghy landings from the sailboat on the rocky and shell strewn beaches of Punta de Mita 
Enjoying our arrival at Punta de Mita

Friday, December 12, 2014

Musica en La Paz

Concert Fundraiser December 5th in la Paz
We set sail the next day
This season I returned to the boat more prepared to keep the music going.  I'm a bit of a contrarian amidst many musically inclined sailors here in Mexico.  Unfortunately I can't just pick up a guitar, harmonica, mandolin or keyboard, and jam.  As a classically trained musician (amateur!), I prefer to read music, and be sober when I am playing.  That keeps me away from a lot of impromptu music events!

Shindig became a musical storage vessel this fall, having at one time a full size cello, a prakticello, two violins for donation, and my Yamaha P-155 keyboard.  Rob and I had a joke that we were looking for a string double bass to round out the music collection.

Last fall I had been introduced to a wonderful Mexican state music school here in La Paz, called Escuela de Musica, in La Paz.    It is the State run Music school for Baja Californa Sur (South)

I remember just showing up one day with a dress on, and a tote-bag full of my music; piano duets, piano and violin sonatas, cello solos, quartet music,  My intent was to show them that I wanted to play and to help in any way I could.  Plus those nice practice rooms with upright pianos have fantastic air conditioning and internet! That grew into different connections with the musicians, teachers and students, who were friendly and just wanted to play music together.

The school hosts a very impressive program of concerts throughout the year.  We returned to La Paz in October just in time for their annual week long of International concerts.  There were different programs each night, ranging from the dramatic Russian music, solo pianists, string trios, and various ensembles. Rob's mom enjoyed attending several with me as well as Lupita and her younger sister. My favorite night was the solo piano with a Debussy program including the beautiful Arabesque #1.


Being a part of the Youth orchestra had a lot of challenges, but all worthwhile.  There are language differences, limited communication on schedules - "What, we have a concert tomorrow night?!", and wondering whether I'll have a full size cello to borrow again...But everything works out well, and my only complaint is not having enough time in town.  I am very thankful for the friendships made, and opportunities to play and to appreciate music together.

Annette, Jaime and I play trio music last Spring at the Centro Cultura La Paz

Backstage before the December  concert
While some of the students are now off in Mexico City at music universities or building violins at Luthier school, there are new friends to be made.  And some of them even use Facebook!
This fall I helped lead a viola section one night, and had fun trying to conduct in Spanish. "Uno, dos....trois, quatre - wait, that's French!)
My appreciation for my conducting friends has magnified!

New friends, in the Youth Orchestra
Jaime, our dramatic cellist

Omar and Annette backstage in a Selfie
Jacob and Alberto trying out my violin

My stand partner, Lupita, husband Raymond and friend backstage

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Paddling for Wendy - Hello Sunshine!

The annual Harker Board SUP day in La Paz was something we really wanted to do.  Last year we stumbled on this fun event and formed a relay team of cruisers.  Rob,  Katie & Mike from SV Pangaea and Wendy from SV Willow made up the team and did admirably.    In the all women short course later in the morning, Wendy went on to place first.  Nicely done!

Last Year: SUP Relay Team Katie, Mike, Rob and Wendy

Wendy on Relay Race last year
We were all excited to participate again this year.

Saturday, our enthusiasm and team spirit was extra strong as we were paddling for Wendy, who is fighting her battle with cancer.

Team Pa-Shin (Pangaea/Shindig) paddles for Wendy on Willow

Wendy was not able to be here with us in La Paz this year, but her infectious spirit and optimism is felt everywhere by those know her.  We've had some fabulous times together, in secluded anchorages, at "safety meetings" in the Marina, at endless music and birthday celebrations and out with the girls in La Paz for sushi.

Wendy, you are our Hero. We are sending your unique greeting and love back, with a Big "Hello Sunshine"!!

Team strategy before the race 


Double Awwwww!
Some pre race thinking. (Nancy has a new friend) 
Bus takes racers to their designated transition spots
Warm up before start of the race:  Rob in green shorts/funny white hat
Nancy warming up 
Katie on leg three

Mike finishes strong for the Team

Nancy in her Happy Place

Harker Board staff serving limonadas
View from Harker Board roof patio