Friday, 2 November 2012

like a fish out of water

Happiness is a clean bottom." -- Rick
Nyon gets positioned by the fab Marina Seca guys
San Carlos, Mexico
It began with a traffic jam. At least that is what it felt like to me. We came into the marina, were about to turn to port (left) toward the ramp, and saw a boat on the starboard (right) dock where we had intended to tie up. Rick stops the boat, I fret. Rick says, “I think we’ll have to go to port, you need to move the fenders to port.” I move the fenders to port. Once all three fenders are moved, a sailboat arrives to be re-floated and tied to the port side dock. The boat owner to starboard says, in Spanish, that we can go around him and tie up on the starboard side. I rush to move the fenders back to starboard. Rick, meanwhile, calmly keeps the boat from hitting other boats and the docks, I fret. This is how our haul out got under way.

As far as I know, Nyon's first ride on a
Our boat is difficult to maneuver at slow speeds, especially when it involves backing up and turning. We have what’s called a long fin keel, and the propeller is aft of the rudder. Other boaters might cringe when I mention this. But Rick is cool as a cucumber. He takes his time. After a few back and forths and some more fretting on my part, he gets us lined up with the dock, I jump off and tie us off.

The San Carlos Marina Seca guys are ready to haul us out. I remember at the last minute to turn off the depth sounder. (Note to sailors, do not leave your depth sounder on when you haul your boat out of the water. That would be a mistake – the transducer likes water. It fries, if it’s turned on out of the water. (That was a $300 blunder we made only once.)

Soon, we’re sitting on the trailer, Nyon’s bow looming over us. The tractor is pushing the whole shebang down the road. The boat yard is ½ a mile away. I stop fretting and take photos. I don’t know why, but every time we haul out Nyon, I feel like a nervous mom sending her child to school for the first time. It’s routine for Rick, he used to haul out as many as seven or eight boats a week at his old job.

The boat yard's welcoming committe:
She barks and barks, but all this old girl
really wants, is a cuddle.
We had lots of cuddles

Once in the work yard, we get the first “parking spot” on the right. This is good. The washrooms and showers are nearby, we are nice and close to the wifi antenna and we only have one boat next to us. We spend the next 6 days there.

Nyon, settling into her parking spot. A non-fretting Kyra

View from our cockpit: The storage yard

Paining, painting, painting
After a good power wash, we do minor repairs (from wear and tear), I sand the bottom, we sand the topsides, we sand the transom, we fill dints on the topsides, and do touch-ups twice, we adjust the boot stripe and paint the boot stripe twice, Rick paints the bottom twice, I redo the lettering on the transom, and then varnish, varnish, varnish, we do maintenance on the anchor, paint the Hydrovane rudder… And the list goes on.

After day two, the days all blurred together. We’d wake up at 7, drink coffee, eat breakfast, listen to the local VHF net, and get to work. We’d work until the sun went down behind the hill. Then we’d shower. And eat. We might watch something, (a show or a movie) or we’d read. Then it was off to bed. Press repeat.

"... Should you be called Yarders for the moment? (Hey - another thought: When your muscles get all tired out from sanding/painting the bottom, is that called yard-arm?" Bjarne, in an e-mail

It's unnatural to go up and down a ladder to
get into your boat.
Sometimes, you don’t manage to get all the supplies you need before hauling out. And then you go to the store for that second can of antifouling paint and they’ve run out. You’re told some will come tomorrow. You call the next day, and are told more paint is coming in 2 days. You ask the woman at the Marina Seca if she can help source some out for you. She calls the head office of your supplier. You are guaranteed more will be there on Saturday. Drat. You want to splash (go back in the water) on Friday at the latest. That would mean staying in the yard three extra days for bottom paint.

So, you walk around to other boats, ask where they got their paint, do they have any to spare – a friend of a friend has some, of a different brand. That’s something! One last ditch effort: You ask on the net, “Does anyone have red ablative AF-30 bottom paint to sell us?” Eureka! Someone does! It’s a nearly full can. Perfect. And he’ll drop it off to at the yard. Even better. Finally, you can move on to your next project.

Not perfect, but it's shiny!

Things we've learned over time when hauling out (we're still perfecting some of these points):
Nyon looking sharp again

  • Make sure you have the supplies you think you have. Go through every little bit you think you’ll need. (Of course sometimes unexpected stuff comes up, which happened to us, it's a long story) – but be as prepared as possible. Don’t assume that because there are three cans of that paint on the shelf that day that it will be there two days later.
  • Have "easy" food to eat – you need to be well-nourished especially when you work long days. Fruit are a great snack and chorizo quesadillas are heavenly after a long work day.
  • Ensure your water tanks are full – you cannot use your drains (buckets are good) but it’s nice to have water aboard.
  • Take time to get to know your neighbours. This is two-fold. It’s sometimes too easy to get distracted and chat whenever someone comes by. Sailors love to talk about their boats. Right Rick? But you have to get your work done too – it’s a fine balance. We’re still working on that. It's nice to have people to commiserate with. We met some lovely folks including the crews of Prairie Rose and Siempre Sabado while we were in the yard. 

  • The work yard, our last morning there
    You can see the tip of our bow on the
    far right, next to the trimaran
      Make sure you get enough sleep – don’t plan too much outside of work. We didn’t plan anything at all, but that’s us. And we were only there for 6 days. If you are stuck in the yard much longer, you need to get away occasionally. We rested in the evenings. We skyped our loved-ones, caught up on e-mails and blogs… watched movies.
    • If you don’t want to go up and down a ladder in the middle of the night, you can pee in a bucket. (I’m sorry if this is too much information): Just remember to have toilet paper handy. I learned by the third time. (If you’re lucky, your partner will do the pee bucket walk of shame to empty the bucket in the morning, so you can pretend you have a bladder of steel. (I stole the walk of shame expression from Eyoni’s blog…)
    • Be friendly with the staff, they’re all fine folk, and you get to practice your Spanish while making new friends.
    • A cold beer at the end of the day hits the spot.
    Shout out to John: Thanks for bringing us homemade mango milkshakes while we were in the yard: Best treat ever!

    Can you see Nyon? She's crossing the bridge!
    Going back where she belongs: In the water

    Nyon is once again afloat, her crew is happy and relieved.


    1. Hi there. Just read your blog for the first time... great post about San Carlos.. and good advice too... Thanks for taking the time... See you sometime this winter with luck.. CJ and Kathy
      SV Shannon PS: We'd like to put a link to your blog on ours.. hope that's ok.

    2. Sure thing CJ! And thanks - we'll link yours too! Here's hoping we'll catch up with you and Kathy!

    3. It was fun being your neighbour for a few days. We just splashed this morning. Karina is looking real jazzy with her all blue hull. We are going to spend a few days here at Marina San Carlos and then head for the Baja. Destination as wind permits, but we hope to get to Santa Rosalia. Bahia Conception for sure.

      1. Hey thanks, it was nice to catch up with you guys - have a great time out there! Cheers, the Nyon crew



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