Our trip back to San Carlos on Oct 29th was uneventful, just the way we like it. We left for the Atlanta airport at 5:30am, flew to Phoenix at 9, got there at 10, taxied to the Tufesa bus station, bought one-way tickets for the next bus ($70pp), waited 2 hours, got on the bus at 12:30pm, stopped at the Nogales border and got new visas, arrived in Guaymas at 10pm (the bus actually arrived early), taxied back to the boat by 10:30pm. Incredibly, the trip went like clockwork. 20 hours later (including time difference), we finally got to sleep in our own bed. Ahhh the bed.
No More Sleepy San Carlos
We slept in the next morning and awoke to a completely different San Carlos than the one we left. Not only was the temperature juuust right at 85deg, but where did all these PEOPLE come from? And Boats! Everywhere! While we were gone, the marina had been busy splashing sailboats from dry storage left and right. All the empty slips were now filled with boats, their owners hard at work getting them cruise-ready.
The entire atmosphere of San Carlos had transformed from a run-down, sad little hamlet to a surging, cheerful marina finally coming back to life. Businesses on summer hiatus finally re-opened for the cruising season. Two restaurants had permanently closed, unable to make it over the meager summer months, yet two more opened up in their stead… sometimes filled to capacity! The VHF radio net was bursting with boat chatter. The parking lot jam-packed with cars and motorhomes. I no longer had my own personal restroom!
People began milling about the docks at 6:30am, coffee in hand. The distinct sounds of sailors mid-prep-work surround and inspire us to get our own work done (it’s hard to be lazy when literally EVERYONE else is working): the chugging of an engine being tested, the buzz of an air-compressor blowing up a dinghy, the distant whine of a vacuum cleaner, anchor chain spilling onto concrete docks, the rattle of roller furling, the vinyl slip-n-slide of sails, water spraying and brushes scrubbing on fiberglass, a squeaky winch squeals in protest while halyards are raised. A mix of ‘Hotel California’ and Mexican mariachi competes for attention, helping to pass the time.
One day, we awoke to the melodious sound of harsh, metallic shredding… what on earth??? It was our neighbor tearing off all the bits of aluminum foil (over and over and over) that he had wrapped around various parts (like roller furling drums, winches, blocks/tackles) to protect from dust invasion and sun damage over the summer. Everywhere, cruisers could be found pontificating on solar panels and weather. The universal question: what are your cruising plans for this year? Anticipation filled the air.
It took us 5 days to get the boat ready at a relatively relaxed pace. Our pre-flight plan goes a little something like this:
• Put up sails (must do this at 6:30am, we have a half-hour window before the wind kicks up)
• Check engine (gotta make sure it works before heading out for a month)
• Change prop zinc (Brian gasped when he went in, the ocean is no longer bathwater warm)
• Wash the boat (a 3-hour process whereupon which we fall into the boat dying from lack of exercise)
• Clean dodger windows (another 3-hour, 3-step process…wax on/wax off)
• Polish stainless (a never-ending pain-in-my ass, but it looks so pretty when shiny)
• Clean/vacuum the inside
• Fill up composting toilet (what? no…with peat, not #2…we emptied/cleaned it all out prior to leaving, now we need to make it usable again)
• Trip to the laundromat to clean clothes/sheets (we have breakfast at Barracuda Bob’s and get on the internet during this 2 hour event)
• Grocery shopping (thank goodness for our friends on Opportunity who took us to Walmart, saved us a TON of time)
• Stow all the food (I had purchased all my dry goods a month and a half ago when we had the truck, so all I needed to buy/stow were refrigerated items: lunch meat, salchichas, fresh veges and cheese…and more cheese)
• Bank (get more pesos - there are no ATMs where we’re going)
• Get gas for the dinghy (our motor only eats premium)
• Climb the mast (why? just to make sure nothing is going to surprise us later)
• Write blogs, compile photos, upload (tons of time)
• And a million other little things.
And we wait…
By Oct 4th, we were ready to go but the weather wasn’t cooperating exactly to our specs. Too much wind equals a mighty uncomfortable crossing. We don’t want that. We also don’t want to leave too soon after a blow to allow the seas to level out. 6ft seas at 5 seconds apart is NO FUN. And we are supposed to be doing this for fun, right?
So we wait. We visit Guaymas and get a look at the old church and Malecon. And we wait. We peruse the first boat swap meet of the year, just in case we find anything we “need” (thankfully “we” don’t). The boat is all ready, we just have to top off water tanks, do one final load of laundry and check out of the marina. And we wait some more.
Another good weather window occurs on Sunday the 8th when we’ll finally leave San Carlos in the dust. We’ll cross the Sea of Cortez once again, 80-some miles to Bahia Concepcion, which we were cheated out of exploring due to hurricane Blanca earlier this year. If all goes well, we plan on taking about a month to get to La Paz, stay there a few weeks, then cross to Mazatlan around Christmas and hopefully Puerto Vallarta by March. Back up to San Carlos in April. Of course, all subject to change in a heartbeat…
We won’t have internet for a couple weeks, so don’t despair… we’re out there somewhere!