Count Down To Launch

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.)

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.

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.

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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24 Responses to “Count Down To Launch”

  1. Brenda on July 23rd, 2015 at 9:12 am

    This is a great blog for any sailor, or one planning to sail. I was with you all the way, climbing up the ladder, in tne shower, and especially enjoying the thrill of freedom sailing on the ocean again.

  2. Lynn on July 23rd, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Thanks Brenda I appreciate the compliment. Living on a boat is nothing like the advertisements in the fancy sailing magazines. Sailing makes living in a boatyard worth it.

  3. Jan Hudson on July 24th, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Great post! Even though I had heard some of the details in our conversations, this post really made me appreciate the efforts and hardships that you and Rick experienced. Really enjoyed the pictures too. Congrats to a fellow LCWG member!

  4. Lynn on July 25th, 2015 at 4:10 am

    I’m very glad you enjoyed this post and the pictures. I give LCWG (La Cruz Writers Group) and Marie all the credit for any writing improvement I may have achieved. See you this fall.

  5. Judy Odenheimer on July 25th, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Hi Lynn:

    Just finished this post – wow, lots going on for you guys. We are back home in Portland. Cetacean is moored on the Caribbean side of Panama. We hope to be back aboard in the fall and heading for the San Blas Islands. Panama has been a fascinating country to visit, although we’ve only seen a tiny bit of it.

    What are your and Rick’s plans now that La Vita is all spruced up?

    Best – Judy
    S/V Cetacean
    (moored at) Shelter Bay, Panama

  6. Lynn on July 25th, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I am so very happy you were able to achieve your goal: transit the canal and explore the Caribbean. your memories and experiences are priceless.

  7. Dave and Jan on July 25th, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Thanks for the great update! We really enjoy your writing style and great photos. Reading about your experiences brings back many memories of our lovely HC33, although we never pulled the mast in 10 years. We are most impressed with the diligence and persistance you both show in holding services (surveyors) and suppliers accountable to their commitments to quality. Good for you!! We’ll provide our update via PM.

  8. Lynn on July 25th, 2015 at 10:59 am

    It is so good to hear from you! Rick gets most of the credit for diligence and persistence. I’m kinda like Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune: I gather tools and stand by with food and Electrolit.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I’ve been working with a writing coach. Hopefully, the readers experience is improved.

    Love to hear from you via PM.

  9. Jane on July 25th, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Perhaps too many ‘stepping coins’ created the leak? Reading this makes me even more thankful I gave up the sailing life. It’s hard work and it takes special souls to do it.

    Love you both so much, Lynn and Rick.

  10. Lynn on July 25th, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Great play on words, ‘stepping coins’ you are gifted writer. The boat repairs get old after awhile. Nothing like the fancy sailing magazines. Teaches character, so they tell me. I think I’ve learned a few more cuss words. grin

  11. Dennis and June on July 25th, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    What a story of persistence and commitment! And I bitch when I have to mow the lawn more than once a week! We are looking forward to the continuing story. From Colorado, June and Dennis

  12. Lynn on July 26th, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Well, maybe we need to be committed! There are times mowing the lawn sounds just right. There will be another episode, that’s a promise.

  13. Julie Azhadi on July 26th, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Hello you guys! I am happy to hear that the wellness trials have been La Vitas! She must be a nearly new ship by now???
    Love the new website! Formatted vey well for my phone, either in portrait or landscape. The site looks very professional! Nice work!

  14. Lynn on July 29th, 2015 at 3:58 am

    Nice change, that’s for sure. We work very hard to keep LA VITA ship-shape. Sometimes it’s a real challenge!

  15. Patricia on July 27th, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Your adventures keep me in mind of my days ( comparably) living on our sailboat in Puerto Rico. Granted we we on a Military base and had pretty much what we needed, but it truly is a unique experience unimaginable to those who have never had it. Love, love, love you keeping record of these events.

    Hope to meet you both in person some day.

  16. Lynn on July 29th, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Living on your sailboat in Puerto Rico would be a very interesting experience. We hope to sail there, one of these days. I try to take pictures of everything and then write about. As a professional photographer, I appreciate you kind words.

    And we hope to meet you, too. Who knows, it could really happen!

  17. George & Renata & Kitty clan on July 27th, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Hello Cousteava family,
    What a story…whoooaaa!!!!!!We love it…amazing..
    That was a big repair,well done.Soooooo what is next?
    We shall see you both back(short visit) in San Diego soon right ????? We miss you, thinking about you ( not really )..Thank you for this beautiful post and pictures. Email will follow shortly.

  18. Lynn on July 29th, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Rick had a big laugh when he read your comments! We love hearing from you, too. Hope to see you soon.

  19. Howard L. Ward on July 28th, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Hi guys, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. It reminded me of what someone told me; “cruising is working on your boat in exotic places”. How true, keep up the good work.

  20. Lynn on July 29th, 2015 at 4:10 am

    Sometimes, our life is exactly as you describe. LOL

  21. Tamiko Willie on October 20th, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Hah! I loved your drowned rat-ness and the coins under the mast step. You’re getting really good at slice-of-life peeks into the wonderful, unexpected, sometimes exasperating world of living on a boat. Nicely done 🙂

  22. lynn on October 21st, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Great praise and deeply appreciated. You really know the good, bad, and ugly living on a sailboat full time.

  23. Patricia on October 20th, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Very well written. I remember very the experiencing wet bedding and bunks. Loved it, your take on things not the wetness.

  24. lynn on October 21st, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Wet beds and bunks are not fun, both on a boat or in house on land. Glad you liked my take on things.

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