Thursday, 21 November 2013

Mazatlan Maintenance Period

After a great summer in Canada it was time to head back to Mexico to continue cruising.  We flew from Victoria to Phoenix.  Importing things into Mexico can be a challenge but luckily friends of ours on SV Sweet Dreams connected us with their friends in Phoenix who let us ship matériel to their house.  We had a hectic day in Phoenix doing last minute shopping and collecting our items from the house and then spent the night trying to repack everything for the bus.  The next next day we took the overnight Tufesa bus to Mazatlan.  Clearing customs in Mexico can be interesting but luckily the paperwork we had from the Mazatlan Harbourmaster was sufficient to allow us through without hassle.  We had a lot of stuff: it took three taxis to get us from the bus station to the marina.

The hotel room in Phoenix before we repacked.

Arrival at Marina Mazatlan

We spent a week living in Fluenta in Marina Mazatlan preparing the boat for the maintenance period in the yard.   Of course, the other important task was celebrating Johnathan's eighth birthday.  We went to Mazagua - the local waterpark.  Great fun and we were pretty much the only non-Mexicans there.  As with much of life in Mexico you are responsible for your own risk management - no nanny state here.  The rides at the water park were fun but required a bit of judgment.

Opening Brithday Gifts

Johnathan on the Zipline (He needed a chair and help to get on the line)

Haulouts are never fun, but the yard ended up delaying our haulout until it was nice and windy and sent only one line handler who set himself up on the leeward side of the boat, which really made things interesting.  Funny on how pushing on a rope never really works out well.  End result we bent over a stanchion as the wind blew us sideways into the wall.  All fixable and no one got hurt but not a great start.
Going Up !

In the slings still

Fluenta was in the yard for two weeks while we had the bottom sanded and painted, the shaft pulled and trued, new cutlass bearings installed, the rudder dropped and checked (and dropped again - long story), sea cocks serviced or replaced, new exhaust tailpipe installed and more.  The expensive bottom painting job we had done in Anacortes did not fair well at all, so we had it sanded off and some toxic local bottom paint applied.  We also increased the pitch on our Maxprop to ease the load on the engine a bit.
Expensive Bottom Paint from Anacortes

Living in a yard is not fun at the best of times but with all the toxic dust and heat (at one point it was 35C and 70% humid in the cabin) we thought it better to get a local hotel.  The Mar Sol Bungalow was great - very inexpensive and the family who runs the place took great care of Liz and the kids.

The kids and I took Sunday off and played tourists at the Mazatlan Aquarium.  Again we were the only non-Mexicans there.  The kids got to participate with some of the animals including the racoon and the Sea Lion.

Once we got Fluenta relaunched and safely tied up at the Fonatur Marina, we rented a car and drove the seven to eight hours to La Cruz where we have a condo rented for awhile.  After helping Liz and the kids get settled in, I then drove back to Mazatlan.  It is a beautiful drive - on the way to La Cruz we went through San Blas and then on the way back I took the mountain and jungle road up to Tepic before getting onto the toll rodes.  Driving in Mexico is never boring ...

I then moved back on the boat and continued working.  Not many pictures from this period as I didn't have the camera.   Also had a bit of a delay as I returned to the boat just in time to prepare for Tropical Storm Sonia.  No major drama but pretty wet and windy.

Ever since we have had Fluenta we have had overheat issues on start if we did not let the engine warm up for a very long time.  Working with Total Yacht Works we may have finally solved the problem.  A new thermostat was installed but this time with a 1/16" hole.  As we already had access and as I had a new spare Perkins coolant pump on hand we also installed the new pump. 

The other outstanding issue was the shaft alignment.  This "simple" project ended up being a tad more involved as we needed to lift the engine to replace the forward two engine mounts.  To gain access we had to remove one of the altenators and cut away one of the bilge hoses.  Very much smoother now.

We had also hired a Canadian expat carpenter, Scott, to put some veneers over the bulkheads I repaired last year and to build us two new deck boxes.  He did an amazing job and to save money he let us do the donkey work of epoxying and painting the deck boxes and varnishing the veneers.  I totally underestimated how long it would take me to epoxy(three coats), sand (forever), prime (with nasty two part paint) and paint (three coats) let alone install the hardware and mount the boxes.  They are however finally installed.  Photos to follow.

After only having a bucket available on the boat for the last few weeks, the head is also functional - and not leaking - again.  Other plumbing included rebuilding the corroded manual bilge pump (whose great idea was it to build a salt water pump out of aluminum ?) and replacing the hoses for the electric and the engine driven bilge pump.

Other projects completed  included:

- Aft fuel tank level gauge - pretty cool ultrasonic sensor so I didn't have to drill any holes in the tank
- AIS - new GPS antenna
- Change Fuel Line lever - no more diesel seeping out
- Clean bilge - it looked like a marsh after the summer
- Corroded T fittings - replaced the last of the original stainless steel fitting
- Engine blower ducting fastened in place more securely
- Fixed and rerouted SSB wiring
- Grey water tank float replaced
- Leaking water manifold replaced
- Lubricated steering cable and sheeves
- New rudder stop
- Paint touchup
- Re spliced lifelines 
- Rebedded pad eye and stanchion base
- Rebedded slider for cockpit hatch
- Reseize and seize shackles throughout
- Retapped the Deck Tie system
- Scheduled maintenance - battery water, engine zincs,  vented loops x 4
- Tapped in new bolts for the steering binnacle
- Touched up engine paint
- Varnish Trickle's wood (the Fatty Knees sailing dingy)
- Vents for the battery box

Whew ... rather a long winded post ...



  1. wow... Sounds like all work no pay for Max :)

  2. That's the way it is Max. Makes a guy wonder how he ever got things done prior to retirement. I think the difference is that we spend more time on the boats, realize and pic up on issues as they come into view...then fix it. Allot accomplished over the past year for you guys!

    I'd like to take just a moment to comment on your approach to life. I think it is just wonderful what you guys are doing with those kids...they will remember it forever and no school could offer the experience and education you guys are handing to them. So cool!

  3. Max and Liz, first congratulations on your baby boy! Liz I have known you for a long time, and this is absolutely the best I've ever seen you look! Fantastic. Benjamin is gorgeous - I think he's a mini-Max! The pics are great, and it looks like an absolutely amazing journey. The kids must be having a ball. Lots of adventure, and of course, lots of work! We are going to be in Turks for the month of March and first week of April if you happen to be in that area at that time. Now that I have your blog, I will keep up with your travels. Great to hear from you, and congrats again. Colleen and Rob

  4. Wow. Almost convince a guy to not get his own boat due to the maintenance. ;)


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