Driving to San Carlos

Bill driving somewhere in Nevada, past a big lake or reservoir.

The day the rain started, we left. There wasn’t as much rain as the last time we headed south, but it lasted longer this time. We were glad to be on our way. Going over Willamette Pass, we saw snow on the ground. Our route was similar to last year’s trip, at least to begin with. I-5 out of Portland to Eugene, pick up Hwy. 58 and then 39/139 to 395.

This was our excitement in Susanville: a deer among the semis parked on the main road. We were walking to stretch our legs and try to find a restaurant.

We stopped in Susanville for the night. Headed to Reno in the morning. Gas was much cheaper in Nevada than California where it was over $6.00 a gallon. Out of Reno we decided to stay on 95 and head to Las Vegas. Another scenic drive with not a lot of traffic until we hit Vegas. Made it to Henderson for the night. We ate dinner at a sports bar a) because you have to try new things out when you’re traveling, and b) that’s what was available. The big event for the night was the Golden Knights game. We asked the waitress who they are and found out they’re the local hockey team. We never did get to see them in action. We left half an hour after the game was supposed to start, as we’d finished our pizza and wanted to get an early start the next day.

The next day, we drove over or by the Hoover Dam. We saw signs for the dam but didn’t stop to see the dam. Our welcome to Arizona was a big change in the landscape, and in the now poor quality of roads. In Phoenix we stopped to say hi to an old friend, Delphi, whose Cascade 36 is in San Carlos, but now owned by someone else. We had a lovely afternoon with her and with Mike and Carol, from RCYC. Driving through Phoenix to get to her house we discovered just how sprawled out the city is – at least two hours to get from one side to the other, and that wasn’t even rush hour. Stopped in Tucson for the night.

Waiting in line for our tourist visas at km. 21. Many of the folks in line were from Canada, a number of them heading to San Carlos.

We crossed the border the next day without actually talking to anyone. We found the place that issues tourist visas and discovered a long, not moving line. We chatted with the guy ahead of us, who is from Nanaimo and heading for Buscerias, near Puerto Vallarta. It took us almost two hours to get through. Inside there was only one clerk processing folks and he was amazingly patient. When we left, the line was even longer.

The drive down Hwy 15 is nice. We took the toll road (15D, we figured the D was for dinero) as opposed to the free road 15L (libre). Three toll booths, the third on the loop road around Hermosillo, which we managed to find this time. The loop road does save about an hour of driving and there wasn’t much traffic on it. The first time we drove down through Hermosillo, Bill was annoyed because we’d paid the toll but ended up experiencing Hermosillo roads and traffic. This time we discovered that the toll for the loop road actually gets collected on the loop road which skirts Hermosillo by quite a distance.

End of the road grill. These were the remains of huge grasshoppers.

We made it to San Carlos by mid afternoon, checked into a hotel for the night and went to check on Gypsy. Bill had requested that she have a meter under the rudder so that we could have room to drop it to install a new propellor shaft. No problem, the marina seca said. When we got there, Bill measured 22 inches of clearance under the rudder. The bow was higher than the stern and there was a definite list to one side. There was a dip in the paving where a heavier boat had been and it was full of water and who knows what kind of chemical muck. Mexico has no environmental work yard regulations other than any precautions you take yourself. The boat yard promised they’d reposition her in the morning. We wandered around and said hi to the folks on Carmanah, and to Cathy on Una Vez Mas, a new friend whom we met last spring in San Carlos. She invited us to the Thursday sailors get-together at the Tortuga restaurant. We like the restaurant and needed supper so we joined the meet up. We met some new folks but we were still road-zoned so we left before the bossa nova band started playing. We watched fireworks from our hotel balcony and called it a day. An interesting feature of the hotel is that the key card has to be slotted into a box for the power in the room to work.

Gypsy was filthy from a summer of dust and the first thing we did was add to the big puddle under the boat. We could keep our feet dry while working on the prop shaft but sanding the bottom would require some wading. We hoped our sea boots were still good. They were. She got repositioned and the work began. We got her cleaned up so we could start sleeping on the boat. Most of what we brought down with us got stowed. By 2100 (9 pm) we were ready to crash. We joked that we should have practiced work days before we came down because the next night we were done in by 1900.

Gypsy’s cockpit in project mode.

We headed into Guaymas to look for a few things we needed. Home Depot came through on blue tape, but that was it. We had to find a ferretería (hardware store) for some threaded rod, nuts, and big fender washers to make a compression tool for the cutlass bearing installation. The cutlass bearing slides into a strut that holds the propeller shaft in place under the boat. You can buy an expensive tool to do this or you can make a tool yourself. As part of the whole process, the rudder was dropped Literally. It tipped over once it was free of the tube, but no damage done. We got the max prop aligned on the end of the shaft, got the shaft inserted through the cutlass bearing and into the engine flange. The next day’s work would be compressing the bellows on the dripless seal, aligning the shaft. The rudder post would get cleaned out and regreased, and the rudder would be reinstalled. 1900 and we’re exhausted. The boat is clean inside and out, hardware has been getting unwrapped or reinstalled, and we have some clean laundry.

The next morning, the lake under us is almost dried out until the power boat that was just moved in got a complete wash. The lake is back and we’re ready to tape and sand the bottom. We have a splash date, and now we have a deadline to get everything finished. Bill bought bunny suits to wear while we sand and paint the bottom. Nina split her’s out almost immediately. We should have bought the pricy ones instead of the 77 peso ones. We got the bottom sanded and Bill painted.

The motorboat pulled out and a sailboat was parked next to us. Nice couple from France who were on their second circumnavigation. Their first took 18 years and they’ve been out sailing for about 30. Down from them is a guy from Vancouver BC and a couple of boats over from us was a couple from Germany. There were folks from all over. We enjoyed listening to the sounds of conversations in other languages that we didn’t understand a word of.

One night, around 0300, the boat started rocking, something that should not happen when you are on jack stands. Didn’t last long, thankfully. We found out the next morning that there had been a 6.1 earthquake off of Bahía Kino, not too far away.

One of our finds on a trip up the mast. This was tucked into the struts for the radar dome. Does this make us empty nesters?

We made multiple trips up the mast while we were in the work yard. No wakes to bob you around. We installed a new radio antenna, pulled off all the foil we’d wrapped blocks in, grabbed a broken messenger line so we could run up one of the halyards. When we bought the clothes line for the messenger line we didn’t realize that the joins were just heat welded. Nina had gone over the line and knotted the joins she could find, but she missed one and it parted just above the spreaders.

We got our projects done with about a day to spare. We splashed and and headed for our slip in the marina. We washed the boat again to get the work yard dust off. We provisioned up, got water delivered, ran out for a test sail, and headed into Guaymas. Met our neighbors on Mana Kai and picked their brains when we found out that they’d spent the last 30 years sailing in the northern Sea of Cortez.

On a nice Sunday morning, we set out. Bahía San Pedro, about twenty miles up the coast was our first stop.

9 thoughts on “Driving to San Carlos”

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