What’s to like about living in the shipyard

Living on the hard, which is to say, on the boat while it is out of the water, is like a cross between a refugee camp and a trailer park, according to Doug. I think of it as a peculiar gated community, or maybe a half-way house, twixt life ashore and life afloat.  Some of us get launched in a couple days, while others have been here for months, even years. We inmates can and do leave the premises from time to time but often remain quite near our cells, often at arm’s length.

Ten steps up, ten steps down
Ten steps up, ten steps down, but look at that shiny paint!

There are some issues related to our hovering home,  mostly to do with plumbing. The nicer bathroom is 500 steps away,  a five-minute walk, or a two-minute bike ride.  Plan ahead! There are showers, and the hot water heater is turned on, hallelujah. In June, 104 degrees, you’d like to have a water cooler instead. Whatever the season, water conservation is mandatory, and the taps in the yard are turned off overnight.

For drinking and cooking water, we’re hauling 20-liter garafons up the ladder. Hector Manuel,  the two-toot, blue cap water guy  (as opposed to the siren water guy whose garafons have yellow caps) honks past daily. We wash up with the marina’s non-potable water, which we dispense to ourselves via a garden sprayer. The main advantage to peeing into a milk jug (via a folding funnel for those of us lacking extension tubing)  is that there is no flushing required.

Watch, and you’ll see most everyone at some point in their day leaves the boat with a roll of toilet paper, a milk jug or a bucket. The genteel  among us put the jugs and paper in bags, but if not:  Don’t look at that jug. Especially don’t glance into the bucket. The lucky folks are the ones with the composting toilets aboard.

Damon Doug Shane
Doug’s purple glove is being passed from boat to boat, to be used for that last little dab of bottom paint under the keel where the blocks were.

There is a goodly amount of opinion-sharing, information-exchange, and just plain bull-shooting.  On the plus side, there is almost always  someone with the tool, the experience, the address or directions, the microballoons, the software, the great idea, a few ounces of sympathy or a shred of information. The Boat-Yard Mind is a powerful thing, and so is its toolbox.


Easing the furler towards the masthead.
Need a hand with something? Here you can get a dozen.

The social life is good

Pot luck dinners are the go-to event for every occasion. We’ve had birthday parties, pre-launch parties, Christmas and Thanksgiving of course, even a December 21 Solstice party.

We’re newbies to Mexico cruising, but one of the first things we’ve learned is that everybody  brings their own chair to a gathering. There are no fallen palm trees around here, no driftwood, and apparently, not too many willing to stand up, except for the food line.

Thanksgiving potluck dinner, and weren't we all thankful for something!
Thanksgiving potluck dinner, and weren’t we all thankful for something!

DSC08830 Desiree spoon

DSC08836 Connie and Mel make Xmas music

DSC08834 white elephant

The Christmas pot luck dinner featured plates of good food and and a white elephant “under-50-pesos or something off the boat” gift exchange. The rules were a little complicated, but someone could chose the gift you already had rather than unwrap something unknown from the stack. The bottles of tequila and wine all made the rounds several times. We also had music from our resident troubador.

Goofing Off? Who, Me?

Work alternates with goofing off
All work and no play..or is it the other way around?
Graeme and John admiring the machine shop's 2015 calendar.
Machine shops the world around use the same calendar.

Problems worse than ours

There's always someone with a bigger project or a worse set of problems than ours.

There’s always someone with a bigger project or a worse set of problems than ours.

It’s a reminder that Marina Guaymas is a shipyard, not a fancy marina. We’re here to get ourselves ready to leave, not to loll about on beach chairs! But it really helps that the marina staff is friendly and helpful. “If you’re happy, I’m happy” says Arnulfo the yard manager, and he means it.

Sheep Eat Our Garbage!

In their own gated communities around our perimeter are a couple dozen sheep whose diets we are encouraged to supplement if we’d like to. There are some loose sheep in the other part of the yard too. Watch out for ‘Pinto’ the butting male! He’s a bruiser.

Their tails are down, their ears are big, so these are definitely sheep, despite their long legs.

They don't like egg shells or garlic cloves, but it seems like everything else is in play, including squeezed out limon, and avocado skins.
They don’t like egg shells or garlic cloves, but it seems like everything else is edible, including squeezed out limón and grapefruit peels.

Every so often…

Someone escapes.

Every so often one of gets launched. Here it's a sister ship to Galivant, Salish Sea.
Here it’s a sister ship to Galivant, the Valiant 40 Salish Sea, making her stately procession to the travelift slip.

Best of all

We’ve made a lot of friends here. Maybe it’s due to adversity, or the common bonds of boatyard life, but really, it’s been a lot of fun.

One of the things we like best about cruising is that we get to spend time with people we wouldn’t have even met in our other life.

We Splashed!

We’re spending the first weekend of the New Year of 2015 in the water. The yard was fine, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be liking this floating stuff better. Un feliz, saludable y próspero año nuevo a todos.

Back in Mexico

This is the border crossing, leaving. Border crossing entering Mexico is kind of confusing, and not the time to be taking photos. But at first, I didn't know which one this was!
This is the border crossing, leaving US of A. The border crossing entering Mexico is kind of confusing, and not the time to be taking photos. But at first, I didn’t know which one this was!

Slightly Nervous

Driving across the border into Mexico at Nogales was something I’ll admit to being a little concerned about. After all, there has been a lot going on recently. We had never done it before. With the back of the car full of stuff, how would we get through customs without getting an evil eye cast upon us?* Was it true that the paved roads fell abruptly a foot to the desert without any shoulder, that we would break an axle if our white-knuckled attention wavered, (or anyone else’s attention either)? What if we inadvertently break some traffic law and face the police? If we see someone broken down, should we stop and help?

Guaymas is halfway down the mainland side at almost 28N, as are Tampa-St. Pete and Corpus Christi. Map courtesy of desert museum.org.
Guaymas is halfway down the mainland side at almost 28N, as are Tampa-St. Pete and Corpus Christi. Nogales is about where Arizona’s southern boundary takes a jog to the northwest. Map courtesy of desert museum.org.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Well none of those things happened or even came close to happening on the Arizona-Sonora interface. In retrospect such concerns seem almost laughable, as is so often the case. A life lesson I keep re-learning: worrying doesn’t help!

The Mexican entry traffic lanes have red or green lights, supposedly randomized. We got the green light and just kept moving. Going through about 8 AM probably helped, since all the lights were green and hardly an agente was stirring! About 19 kilometers further on is another stop wherein one pays the immigration fee, and buys car insurance for Mexico, or an import permit, if the car is going beyond Guaymas/San Carlos area.

The toll road (Highway 15) had its moments as it changed from a divided to a shared roadway between construction cones, but it was an uneventful drive on a decent road. There are some ‘off-label’ uses of the left-turn signal to learn. On the truck in front of you it means, not “I’m pulling out to pass something now”, but instead “It’s clear for you there behind me to pass now.”

We were back at the boat at lunchtime, none the worse for wear. Back in the land of limon and aguacate, tortillas and fish tacos, sunshine and smiling faces. Hooray!

The original yard to the left, and the new storage yard to the right. There's a big shrimper workyard at the waterfront end of the road.
The original yard of Marina Guaymas to the left, and the new storage yard to the right. There’s a big shrimper workyard at the waterfront end of the road.


Nor had any of the dreadful consequences of summer in the desert near a hurricane zone befallen Galivant on her perch in the Guaymas Marina. We were told: Your interior woodwork will dry out and crack, you’ll get dust sifting in everywhere, ants and bees will invade, the jackstands will wash out in torrential rains if a hurricane comes. We saw people stuffing their thru-hulls with steel wool, putting wool hats atop their wind instruments, wrapping their winches and plastic bits with with enough aluminum foil to roast a bull.

Well, we did cover our winches and windlass, put shades in the hatches and ports and leave our Colombian greenhouse-cloth awning in place. When we got back the boat was just as we had left it, or cleaner thanks to a bit of rain over the summer. And we were well-looked-after by Gabriel, Arny, Andrés, Roberto and the guardiáns.


The hurricane season in the Pacific ran nearly through the alphabet in 2014
The hurricane season in the Pacific ran nearly through the alphabet in 2014. The actuaries recommend staying north of 27N, which here means Guaymas or San Carlos.

Hurricane Vance maybe was the one who gave us our washdown.  Not everyone was so lucky. Further south, at Cabo San Lucas, on the tip of the Baja California peninsula, they took a big hit from Hurricane Odile in mid- September.  In La Paz, Odile’s 125-knot gusts  took lives and ruined buildings. Lives were lost in the anchorage as well; and boats sank and were blown ashore.  In one of the haul-out facilities, Atalanta, they fell like dominoes.

boats blown over by Odile
We couldn’t quite make ourselves comfortable with leaving our boat for the season in any marina we saw in La Paz. Sometimes it’s good to listen to those little voices in your head.

Get Back to Work

We’ve got plenty of work ahead of us. We’re getting a paint job, and transmission repairs, just for starters. Guaymas is a good place for both things. It’s a port city of several hundred thousand people but I am still studying what exactly makes it go.

We like moving ourselves through the world with public transportation. However we have a car of our own here and it certainly does make errands easier,  the marina being a bit out of town. Until now I hadn’t fully appreciated its secondary use as a rolling storage shed. You should see the stuff we’ve got stacked in the back, like winter clothes and empty canning jars, and tools that haven’t earned their keep.

The temperatures are pleasant, highs about 80, overnight into the low 60s, or even into the 50s, at which point the coconut oil needs to be spooned out of its jar. Close the hatches! Where are my socks?  Humidity is in the “Goldilocks’ mid-ranges. The sun shines almost all the time but the sun index is down to 6. The hours of night exceed those of day, 0700-ish and 1730-ish. The water temperatures are dropping into the low 70s if the satellite image is to be believed. We’re in Mountain Standard Time.

It might be better to be floating, but that will come, mañana.

Nice to remember why this car is really in the boatyard!
Nice to remember why this car is really in the boatyard!
 * Although, despite our bicycles and paint,  we were real lightweights compared to some. You should have seen the mountains of stuff that came back on other cars, backseats crammed, roof racks heaped and trailer hitch carriers flowing with fluttering tarps.