We busted our butt getting LA VITA shipshape. It was a long, hot, and wet summer.
Lynn The Drowned Rat
Wet Bunk and Soggy Saloon
A leak developed over our bunk and in the saloon. Thank goodness the soggy pillows were on Rick’s side of the berth.
(Please click on image to change size.)
|DESCRIPTION: LA VITA's Saloon|
|Our Comfy Berth||LA VITA‘s Saloon|
Using a hose to simulate rain, Rick determined the leak was most likely under the mast base plate. We agonized over the decision to pull or not to pull. What if his diagnosis is wrong?
Pulling LA VITA’s “stick” was a complex process. Down below, Peter Vargas (Sea-Tek Rigging) detached multiple cables running inside the mast. These cables deliver electronic messages from the radar and anemometer (measures speed and wind direction) to the chart plotter in the cockpit. On deck, three sails and both booms were removed.
Rick worked with Sea-Tek Rigging to remove and fold acres of sail.
|Description: Acres of Sails|
|Rick On Deck Removing Sails||Acres of Sails|
Stripped of her red dress (sails) we motored to La Cruz boatyard with the threat of rain in the air. As we entered the ways, our strong arm deckhand tossed a line to a dockhand.
Tossing Dockline to Worker
LA VITA was tied bow and stern. With a wave of his hand, Peter signaled the crane operator to lift him to the spreaders. While dangling in midair, he secured a padded sling around the mast. Then he was lifted even higher, to the tip of the mast where he removed the anemometer.
|The Crane Lifts Peter To The Spreaders||Peter Attaches Padded Hook To The Mast|
With the mast secured to the crane, the stainless steel rigging was released and tied to the mast. I watched in awe as the giant crane lifted our 46-foot mast with ease. It was guided effortlessly to sawhorses in boatyard.
|Mast Dangling From The Crane||Mast And Rigging On Sawhorses|
The men worked. I snapped pictures. Mother nature made good her threat and by noon I was a drowned rat. We sailed back to our slip in the rain.
Lynn The Drowned Rat
With the mast off, true to ancient sailing tradition, we found coins representing each time the mast had been stepped (mounted on deck). When we step the mast, we will continue the practice by adding a 2014 Mexican peso to the collection.
Coins Under The Mast
Back in our slip, the mast step plate bolts were removed and the plate pried loose. Rick’s guess was right; after 20-years the seal had deteriorated allowing water to trickle into the cabin.
Removing Mast Step Plate Bolts
Land and Coffee
In April 2014, we threw caution to the wind and bought a used car from Gecko Car Rental. Three years in La Cruz, riding buses or time-sensitive taxi rides had taken its toll.
With a car, we could stop at our favorite Starbucks (Las Juntas location) on the way to chandlery stores (marine supplies), medical appointments, and Costco.
The friendly Starbucks’ baristas worked with Rick to create HIS special Caramel Macchiato recipe. Rick’s elegant blend includes four shots of espresso and extra caramel. This custom brew was preserved on a cardboard coffee sleeve. Now the baristas, on both sides of the border, get it right every time.
Rick’s Custom Caramel Macchiato Recipe
On Rick’s birthday the Starbucks’ staff signed a one of their speciality mug. Their signatures and birthday wishes were preserved by baking the mug in the oven for 45 minutes.
|Rick’s Birthday Mug||Starbucks Staff, Rick (middle), And Lynn (far left)|
In Mexico, deep associations are formed between people involved in every day transactions. These relationships have lifted our spirits during times of struggle and added joy to the good times.
We Paid Our Dues, Right?
Rick is in good-health. My health hasn’t been a problem (knock on wood). We lost weight and exercised. We thrived on our new food plan: “If it tastes good, spit it out.” Rick dropped over 30 pounds. By some miracle, I reached my ideal weight.
For over a year every bite, was weighed, measured, counted, and sodium free. We earned the right to go sailing, right?
|Cherries Counted|| Rinsing Beans of Sodium
LA VITA‘s Bottom
Preparation for our adventures at sea moved from the mast to the bottom of the keel.
LA VITA is a high-strung redhead (brownish-red tanbark sails). She has never passed up a trip to the beauty parlor (boatyard). As indulgent parents we cater to LA VITA’s every whim.
LA VITA‘s A High-Strung Red Head
This time, she demanded new bottom paint. In blistering-hot October we sailed to Opequimar boatyard and hauled out. What should have been a 10-day job turned into a month long nightmare.
LA VITA was stripped, sanded, primed, and painted.
Money flowed out at an astounding rate. To save a few pesos, we lived and sweltered on LA VITA for 30-days. Our home stood on jack stands. Every visit to the head, shower, grocery store, and cafe required a trip down and up a 12-foot ladder. Several times a day.
Lynn Climbing Down The Ladder
Everyone’s frustration grew when the new bottom paint refused to dry. Meanwhile, the layday meter ($50 USD p/day to sit in the yard) merrily clicked along.
Comex sent a paint expert to analyze the problem. Tests proved it was a bad batch of paint. Now the question became: who pays?
Lee and Dan on s/v AFFROESSA heard about our trials and decided we could use an extra hand. They created the perfect crew member. He carried his own tools, always wore a smile, and didn’t eat much. He was a good referee, too!
Ideal Crew Member Created by s/v AFFROESSA
A lively four-way discussion ensued. Rick stuck to the facts and remained respectful. Juan (project manager) and Opequimar’s yard manager translated. Ultimately, Comex agreed to pay for material, laydays, and labor to strip the sticky paint down to the fiberglass, apply a new barrier coat, and three new coats of bottom paint.
A Lively Discussion (from right to left) Rick, Comex, Juan, and Opequimar
Powerful chemicals peeled away the sticky paint, followed by lots of sanding, followed by gray primer, and finally new red bottom paint.
|Chemicals Removed The Bad Paint||New Gray Barrier Coat|
The new red bottom paint dried properly. Here she is in the straps ready to be launched.
Life in the Yard
Showers in most boatyards are disgusting; designed to discourage long term residents. Opequimar’s shower situation was unique. We were presented with our choice of the “Executive” showers with locking louvred doors. Or the “Client” showers with solid doors that didn’t lock. We choose the “Executive” option. There were draw backs.
The lounging area for the workers was the curb right in front of the the “Executive” shower louvred doors.
|Men in Front of “Executive” Louvred Doors||View From The Deck|
Inside the “Executive” facilities I watched the guys through the louvred door and listened to their laughing. I swear they could have been in the next stall. Scary. I showered after 8 pm, when the coast was clear.
|Louvred Doors From Inside the Shower||“Executive” Sink and Shower|
Finally, LA VITA’s new bottom paint was dry. The yard manager ordered the Marine Travelift and it arrived the next day.
The lift inched into position. LA VITA was tied in the cradle, jack stands removed, and she was carried to the ways.
New Bottom Paint and LA VITA Is Strapped in the Lift
Rick signed final paperwork and we were free to go.
LA VITA In The Travelift and Rick Signing Final Paperwork
We launched Halloween day. LA VITA was suspended over the water, and lowered to ground level. From the dock, we climbed over the bowsprit and walked back to the cockpit. The lift gently placed LA VITA in the water.
|LA VITA Suspended Over The Ways||Climbing Over the Bowsprit (Photo Credit s/v CHANTEY)|
Rick started the engine, took command of the helm, and backed us out of the ways. We headed out to sea and I felt the familiar thrill of freedom as we glided over the ocean.
|LA VITA on the water|
|Rick At the Helm||Cruising Out To Sea
The Best Laid Plans
With LA VITA back in the water we figured our final obstacle was overcome. Two months later we proved an old sailing expression, “Plans are written in sand at low tide.”
Stay tuned for the next installment as Lynn throws a monkey wrench into the sailing plans.
Rick promises,“The next episode won’t take a year to write!”
Lynn grins, pumps two thumbs up, and says,“Aye Aye, Cap’n.”
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