Magic is in the air

I arrived in San Carlos at about 2:30 on Christmas afternoon. The decision to cross the border on Christmas Day was somewhat arbitrary. I pulled into Tucson on Sunday the 21st needing my trailer brakes fixed and some other stainless bits welded. After a few phone calls, I had an appointment with Patrick @ Professional Trailer. Patrick dropped everything to take care of me quickly, and did it all at a fair price. I am VERY happy I took my business to him. The welding took a bit longer to find the right guy with the time and desire to come and get-er-done on Christmas Eve, but once JJ showed up, I knew I was in good hands.
Anxious to hit the road after three nights spent stealthily urban camping in a residential neighborhood where my old friends Trent, Abra, and their daughter Zephyr live, I had one last “funny sound” to investigate under my hood before I could leave. Turns out my exhaust had completely unhooked itself from the turbo because of a failed clamp bolt. Luckily, the fancy clamp was still dangling around my exhaust, now I just needed to find a new bolt and a special barrel style nut. With little hopes of finding an exact replacement, I wandered into Ace hardware to see what parts I could bastardize into a workable solution. That solution was found in the furniture hardware box, in the form of a barrel nut that would only require a small amount of customizing to make fit perfectly!
Using a ratchet strap and a hydraulic jack to pull and lift the exhaust into alignment, and then by forcefully shoving my arms down into a spot where two arms should never have to go, I was able to reclamp the two pipes back together creating a seamless tunnel for the hot exhaust gases to happily find there way out through the back of the truck.
Now darkness was getting close. I really wanted to get my train rolling again.
In years past, I had stayed at an RV campground up in the Saguaro cactus laden foothills of Tucson Mountain County Park, and, although not very far away, I decided it would be a great place to go spend the night. Unfortunately, after driving up to the park, we found the campground virtually full, with all the larger spots taken. Who’d-a thunk that a campground would be filled up to the brim with festive, Christmas Eve campers?
So, we used the poop dump facilities, and set our sights for a rest area on the highway about 20 miles north of the border.
Expecting a long stopover dealing with my boat and boat trailer at customs and immigration, I wanted to hit the road early. As I was driving, I noticed how nearly all businesses were closed for the Christmas holiday. That started to get me wondering if the immigration offices were even going to be operating. If they were open, would they be manned by mean, crusty people forced to work the holiday shift, costing me more time and money than otherwise needed? Was this crossing on Christmas going to be a good idea or not???
Well, in hindsight, it was brilliant! There was no talk whatsoever of my boat or trailer, I didn’t offer up any more details than was necessary. I paid my $22 for my 6 month visa and was on my way in no time. One last checkpoint to make it through…there is a “green light/red light” game they play when you come into Mexico via car or by plane. It is a random thing. If you get the green, you are free to go. If you get the red, they search through your stuff. If you do have things that you should have declared but didn’t…umm, I’m not sure what happens, but I imagine there’s some hefty fines to pay.
Luckily for me, the red light green light game was not even in operation.
All in all, a fairly stress free drive.
I made it through Hermosillo with my shiny clean license plates, without even so much as seeing a cop. Although the last 70 miles of shoulder-less roads, with death defying drops amped up my tension a bit, when I arrived in San Carlos, I felt like a kid coming home.
I didn’t know if I’d see anyone here that I knew or not. When I pulled into the boatyard, it was dead. Plenty of boats, but absolutely no people. I decided to go walk to the beach. On my way there, I thought I’d check and see if some old friends, Theo and Marrionette, were at their newly acquired home. I knew the neighborhood it was in, but I had never been there. As I got closer to the condo complex, I could clearly here the sound of ALOT of people gathered. Sure enough, it was the right place and it was like walking into christmas dinner with my family (except a family of about 40).
Food, drink, music, gifts, friends.
Welcome to Mexico.
Life is Magical!!!

Work, work, work…

Nearly a week has past since arriving in San Carlos. With Cat2Fold awaiting us in the work yard the day we arrived, it was time to get down and dirty and get to work. Speaking of dirty, between all the sanding that we, and everyone else in the yard was doing, and the painting, and epoxying, coupled with nearly triple digit temperatures, every evening we looked like salt/dust/paint covered creatures. Luckily there are showers here on site. Not very hot, but it doesn’t really matter.

Although everyday seems to be filled with hurry up and wait for the current batch of paint or epoxy to dry, we have managed to complete many items that were/are on our “to do” list. The first thing we did upon our arrival was to replace the main halyards so we could safely lower the twin masts. With the masts down, we were able to add a masthead crane with a turning block to each mast so we can fly a spinnaker from the top of the mast, rather than only3/4 of the way up. We also added a custom “hole in the bow” on each bow to use as a padeye attachment for the luff of my new (used) drifter sail (see pics).

Genoa/Drifter Sail Attachment Point.

Unfortunately, when we hoisted the drifter to try it on for size, the luff was still about a foot too long to get any tension on the sail. So, unfortunately we will have to have the sail recut for optimum performance. There is a good sail loft in PV where we can hopefully have the work done for not too much $$$. In the meantime, it should work just fine for sailingoff the wind.

With the masts, and any other kind of heavy item removed from the boat, it was time to try and lift her up off the trailer to get some much needed bottom paint applied to the belly of the beast. We had been thinking of this process throughout the summer. Much anxiety had built up through the past few months. “Would we need to hire a crane?” We surely didn’t want to spend the several hundred dollars needed for that. So, after donning the thinking cap for a few days, we came up with a way to elevate the boat above the trailer without even using the heavy duty bottle jacks we brought along.
Using only the trailer jack, we lowered the front of the trailer until the hitch was literally on the ground. This gave Cat2Fold an ass up attitude. With her ass as high up in the air as physically possible, we stacked blocks at the very stern of the boat (to ensure a vertical bulkhead was there to help carry the load). Then, by cranking the front of the trailer back up, Cat2Fold became magically suspended nearly a foot above the rear of the trailer. We deflated 4 of the 6 trailer wheels which gained an extra precious few inches. Now we could reach well over 3/4 of the boats bottom!! Several days later, we reinflated the tires and essentially reversed the system, allowing us to access the remaining hull bottom. Now, Cat2Fold is sitting back on the trailer, safe and sound, with a complete double coat of blue bottom paint. Hopefully, the HUGE battle we had going on against marine life trying to make a home of Cat2Folds’ hulls last year, will be a long distant memory.

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Reunited and it feels so good

24 hours, 3 taxis, and 3 buses, is all you need to get from San Carlos to Puerto Vallarta. Phew!

All is well here on Cat2Fold! Her beard (which grew mighty long!) is currently being shaved and polished. I’m gonna hang here at the marina a couple more nights so I can get a few electronic things soldered here on Monday. Until then I’ve got other work to do and hopefully I’ll get some spirited day sailing in this afternoon and tomorrow…


Mexico by Bus

I’m 3 hours into my 24 hour+ bus ride through Mexico. Although this bus is extremely comfortable, with reclining seats, restrooms, movies (in Spanish), and a wifi connection (still not sure how this is done…), my 6’7″ frame is already starting to feel a bit stiff and constricted. My last beer that I brought aboard in my briefcase is now fully warm, but I’ll enjoy it anyway. There are no accessory outlets to charge any electronic devices that I can see, so I’m sure I’ll be out of juice well before reaching my destination.
Yesterday I drove my truck and boat trailer from Tucson, Az to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. Along the way I was lucky enough to learn some cultural lessons…Mexican styley;
1) While trying to navigate my way to San Carlos, I learned early on in the drive that my new iPad GPS system didn’t work. I was gonna have to find my way there using only road signs. About halfway through the drive, I decided a couple of beers and some chips would be good… MISTAKE!!!
In Hermosillo, at dusk I was trying to cross three lanes of traffic from the left side of the road to the right so as not to miss a turn I needed to make. Pulling a 35′ long, triple axle trailer did not make this move very easy. With my blinker on, I slowly made my way to the right side of the road, with a federali following very close behind. I’m pretty sure I didn’t break any law, but the cop thought so… then he smelled the beer. He wanted me to follow him to the station. He was talking about a $4000 peso fine. I was nervous and apologetic. Darkness was enveloping us and I needed to get to San Carlos which was still over an hour away. So, I opened my wallet, and emptied the contents into his greedy little hands. $1900 pesos and $11 USD later and this cop was my personal escort to the next turn.
Driving in Mexico at night is not highly recommended. Not so much for fear of a hijacking, or anything, but just because the roads are full of potholes and livestock which are next to impossible to see. My reason for not getting to San Carlos before dark was multifaceted, but due in large part to an extremely long delay at immigrations. Turns out that if you have a trailerable boat, and you want to temporarily import that boat into Mexico, you had better bring the boat and trailer together. So now I find out that my plan to leave the boat on the trailer in San Carlos can not happen without driving the boat up to Nogales immigration (5-6 hours) first, changing the two separate import permits (the boat is good for ten years, the trailer only six months), then I can drive them back to San Carlos. …That ain’t happening. Cat2Fold is gonna come back to Idaho for the summer (I’m pretty sure anyway).

In the next few days I’m gonna try and sit down and write some about the Banderas Bay area and what Deidre and I did during our time there. Cat2Fold has been sitting idle for nearly three weeks in the warm, crocodile filled waters of the Nuevo Vallarta river estuary, while Deidre and I traveled back to the Tetons. When I arrive, I’m sure she will have grown a beard so thick and nasty it will virtually be its own ecosystem! I am not looking forward to that particular job!
Although the high country in and around Jackson Hole has been having an extremely lackluster snow year, we still managed to get some decent skiing in. I hiked up Mt. Glory twice, and Deidre and I even skied Taylor Mt. Hiking and skiing up over 10,000 feet after spending nearly 4 months at sea level hanging out on my boat comes with some challenges, however, Dre and I did just fine!
While we were home it snowed plenty to whet our powder appetites, however my main reason for going home was not the powder, it was to hang out with my AMAZING kids!!!
Georgie (6) and Beo (4) are doing so many activities, it is really amazing! They are both learning to ski race. I got to watch Georgie do her first one! She did Awesome! Although Beo is too young to enter any races, he is skiing (training) with kids that are several years older than him. I also towed him up a popular backcountry trail (Coal Creek) several times and skied it together along with Cora, my 13 year old dog. I am SO proud of both of them! We also did some X-C skiing, ice skating, snow ball fighting, wrestling, and many other fun things. Georgie and Beo are the only reason I am not selling everything I own, jumping on Cat2Fold, and sailing off into the distance, chasing sunsets.
I’m now nearly 5 hours into this Bus ride and I am gonna upload a few pics and call it a night…