B Words

This blog is brought to you by the letter “B”!

Bottoms, batteries, bellies, bad water, budgets and the unspoken B word that must be banished whenever it rears its ugly head.

The cruising life is sometimes very challenging. Think of all that you do to maintain your house, then add lots of salt water, high temperatures, and a moving foundation. Remove any convenient stores such as Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or West Marine, and add a language barrier between yourself and any of your service reps. Okay, now try to find a wire under the floor below a water tank, behind a wall, while upside down with your head in the bilge. Getting the picture?

Things break. So lately we’ve been fulfilling the old sayings that cruising is “working on your boat in exotic locations”, and that “BOAT stands for “bring out another thousand”.

Back to the B’s. Let’s start with bottoms. Nothing broken here, just lots of growing critters because of old paint. Happy Dance is on the hard, getting all the old paint removed so that we can have lovely new paint added. You may remember the last time we tried this in San Carlos, the boat yard dropped us off the hauler, Happy Dance bounced on her keel in shallow water, and our hearts stopped. No damage thankfully, but the paint job was extremely poor and it has nearly worn off in much too short of a time frame. This time we’ll remove the layers of ablative paint and start fresh with higher quality hard paint. We’re going back to black, so maybe we’ll start attacking the whales again!

Batteries are the next B, closely tied to the budget debacle. When we left Anacortes over four years ago we had 8 brand new Full River DC-115 AGM batteries that made up our house batteries, giving us 920 amp hours. Since leaving the dock in San Carlos last month, we have had trouble keeping the house batteries charged, and the separate engine start battery completely died. We replaced the engine start battery asap, since of course we couldn’t start the engine or run the anchor windlass without it.

The house batteries were another story because they were working, but not at optimum levels. This made it necessary to run the engine and generator much more often to keep the batteries charged, and in so doing the generator stopped running too! That of course drove more budget overages to get the generator fixed, by adding a fuel pump, cleaning the racor filters, and cleaning out all the fuel lines. Thankfully it runs like a champ now.

We have now had the house batteries load tested and validated that they are no longer holding a charge when under load, or as one mechanic said; they’re in a death spiral. So, here we are in Mexico, land of flooded cell batteries, and we need AGMs. We finally just decided to go all in and have the 8 batteries, weighing 75 lbs each, delivered from San Diego, for a budget breaking fee of course.

The next B word on our lovely list is belly. This is a weird one and comes with a crazy story. I had a bump on my belly that decided to turn into a nasty infected mess. In trying to figure out how to resolve this issue we went to visit a doctor here in Loreto. As I tell this story I need to add a disclaimer that Mexican medical services shouldn’t be judged by this story. There are plenty of highly trained and top notch medical professionals in Mexico. This was just an unusual small town situation where we were shown the generosity and caring of the people here even though the results weren’t quite up to our comfort level.

So here goes; we made an appointment to have my “belly bump” looked at by a local doctor. When we got to his office, we were told by the receptionist that he was at home that day because his mother was ill and did we want to visit him there? Marty and I were a little skeptical, since it’s not typical for us to visit a doctor at their home! Anyway, after some bumbling attempts to converse with the receptionist, we finally ascertained where the doctor lived and that he was expecting us. The directions were to go around the corner, turn left down a small dirt road that didn’t have a name (picture back alley), and look for a house with a white Altima in the driveway. Well we did that, and as we were driving down the little dirt road, I was a little unsure if we should be there at all! We soon found the house with the Altima parked out front and as we were deciding whether or not to even get out of the car, out comes Dr. Fernando, dressed in a dirty torn t-shirt, black baggy sweat pants, dirty socks, and pushing a walker. Yikes! However he welcomed us in perfect English and invited us into his home. Not wanting to offend him, we followed him in and proceeded to be jumped on by his new puppy. The house wasn’t what I would call clean, but not filthy, just cluttered, and the flat screen TV was blaring a Mexican soap opera.

Dr. Fernando asked me to sit on the couch while he took my vitals, then he asked me to lie down on the couch so he could take a look at my tummy. Picture a small overstuffed couch, with the doctor sitting on one end with his bag and he wasn’t moving, so I had to lift my legs over his head to lie down; very cozy. He poked and prodded and announced that I had an abscess, that he would prescribe some antibiotics and if it didn’t get better he’d have to drain it the following week.

The following week things weren’t better, but rather than head back to the doctor’s house we headed for the states. Needless to say the thought of Dr. Fernando coming at me with a steak knife from the kitchen drawer to drain my owie was a bit more than I could handle..ha! I’m sure all would have been well in his clinic, but since we were already dealing with a rampant infection we felt that it would be a bit safer to have it dealt with in the states. After seeing all that the American doctors did to get me on the road to recovery, we were very glad we’d made the decision to head north. All is well now, so this little episode is now just a funny story in the long list of funny stories we are collecting!

So let’s see, what’s next in the list of B words; oh, bad water! Another piece of equipment that decided to die this month was our water maker. Rather than giving us pure water at a level of around 200-300 PPM (parts per million), it decided to stop working at optimum levels and the output water was reading 800+PPM. Supposedly it’s okay to drink water up to 1,000 PPM, but it sure doesn’t taste good. We haven’t yet figured out what’s up with the water maker, and can’t test any fixes until we get Happy Dance back in the water. Hopefully it’s either low voltage from our dying batteries, or a bad pump, for which we have a replacement, or we need to replace the membrane. If none of those work, all bets are off!

The double B – broken budget is a given with all this work we’re suddenly having done to the boat. The bottom paint was a planned expense, but new batteries, an unscheduled trip to the US, water maker parts, generator fixes, and outboard fixes are all surprises. Oh well, I guess we can just chalk it up to the price of living in paradise!

So that brings me to my last B word for this exciting and expensive blog. And that is…drumroll please…boredom! That’s the B word that must be banished, that isn’t acknowledged or even said out loud by most cruisers. I mean really, how is it possible to be bored? Look around! Beauty everywhere, beaches to walk, boat chores to do, swims and snorkels to take, games to play, sun downers to share, books to read. So why the B word? I blame it on not being able to swim while my tummy was healing. Floating over crystal clear 84 degree water, and not being able to dive in was more than my little swimming heart could handle. So we momentarily succumbed to a feeling of b-b-b-boredom, that unfortunately has been following us as we wait wait wait for work to be finished on Happy Dance.  As is often the case with boat projects, this one is already delayed by three days as more issues are discovered, but thankfully we will soon be back in the water heading south enjoying all the sights, sounds, and blissful (a GOOD B word!) feelings of the cruising life.

The northers have started to blow and the temperatures are dropping, so it’s time to point the bow across the Sea and head for the mainland tropics. We’ll let the wind direct us as we head to Matanchen, La Cruz, Tenacatita, Barra Navidad and possibly further south. We’ll be back up this way in the spring, or at least that’s the plan! But that’s the P word, and plans are subject to change, so we’ll save that for another blog.