Plan "B"

April 5, 1997 (Saturday)

Up at the crack of dawn and off we go to San Diego8. We head out the south entrance of Marina del Rey1 and head directly to San Diego8. This time we will not stop in Catalina. We were about an hour into our venture south when we peered out over the horizon and saw that we were being honored with an escort out of Santa Monica Bay by several dolphins. We both thought that this was pretty special and likely to be a good omen.

We, having a wide variety of sails to choose from, put up the jib top and settled into a nice comfortable sail. By evening we had to take down the jib top because the winds were picking up and the jib top could no longer handle the job. We put up the 115% and Mouse Pad began to fly. Boy we thought we were hot stuff. To us, seeing 6.6 knots was pretty good for a boat that is so laden down with a year’s supply of baked beans, rice, butter and all of the other essentials that we fear we will not be able to purchase in the South Pacific. The winds lasted until about 2:00 in the morning. They became so fluky that we finally turned on the engine.

We pulled into San Diego8 at 7:30 in the morning, secured a slip at the custom’s dock and did our usual ‘tidy up and go to sleep’. We are very grateful for the custom’s dock. The are very affordable ($5.00 per day for up to five days and then $10.00 per day thereafter). We had decided that we would spend a couple of days in San Diego8 and then head to Ensenada so we could make up some of the time that we had lost. We planned to contact the GlobeTOR representative in San Diego8 and try our luck with the system one more time. We were advised that Offshore Outfitters was the representative company for the San Diego8 area. We contacted Shea Weston of Offshore Outfitters and scheduled an installation for the next day. We learned later that Shea already had a full calendar but had rearranged his schedule to perform our installation. We had upgraded our radio and the computer that the system would run on, so ‘we were ready’. Little did we know what was in store for the next week. Shea arrived to do the installation and determined that our SGC radio (number 2) was defective. Shea contacted SGC and got authorization for another unit to be shipped. The unit would be shipped to Downwind Marine in San Diego8. We had adopted Downwind’s address as our own while we were in San Diego8. All of our business began to take on their address. While we were in Downwind doing some more essential shopping we noticed that they had the same radio. We mentioned the problems that we were experiencing with the radio. They offered to let us have their radio and would send our defective unit back to SGC as though it were theirs. This was a wonderful offer. We had lost so much time and money so far trying to rectify the radio problems. Shea was again onboard to install the system. The system installed and ‘kinda’ worked. We had several electrical situations that needed to be adjusted for the radio and E-mail system to work in harmony. Shea through the course of this installation became intimately familiar with all of Mouse Pad’s switches and wires. Shea remounted the antenna tuner, grounding and put filters and resistors everywhere on the boat to keep each device happy. Through the course of fine tuning Mouse Pad’s electrical system, we learn that the SSB radio (number 3) was also defective. We were using features that Downwind did not use and therefore did not know was defective. Shea and Downwind jointly worked with SGC to secure radio number four for us. It arrived the next day and Shea tested it against the E-Mail system. All seems to be in order. Four new radios and several hundred dollars later, we are up and running.

While in San Diego8, we were given the use of Downwind’s pickup. We ran our errands and again purchased some more food. Either we eat a lot or plan to do so because all we seem to do is buy groceries. We also realized that we had not made any purchases of goodies so we can give to the children of the companies we plan to visit. We stop off at Staples and buy pencils, crayons and sidewalk chalk for the children. Now we have some more goodies to find a home for. Everyone is now teasing us about the absence of a waterline and boot-stripe. We are very low in the water. Will Mouse Pad still be able to sail with all of these items on board?

While we had the use of Downwind’s pickup we went to the Mexican consulate office to get our visas and Mexican fishing license. Downwind publishes a nice little cruiser’s guide. In this guide it mentions that the Mexican government offices close at 2:00 PM. This proved to be true. We arrived at 2:10 PM and were advised that we would have to come back tomorrow. No begging would make them deviate from the rules. We went back the next day and made sure we arrived well in time to conduct our business. At the Mexican consulate office we were asked if we had any weapons or a cellular telephone in our possession. We did have a cellular telephone as well as Phill’s handy all-in-one tool that he carries on his belt. We had to relinquish these items before we could proceed to the consulate’s office. The actual time that it takes to secure a visa is about five minutes. Sweet and simple. No fees and no hassles. When we returned to pick our telephone and ‘weapon’ we asked about the need to relinquish the telephone. The ‘weapon’ was rather obvious but the telephone was a little puzzling. We were told that only the Mexican Consulate and a select few of their executives were allowed to enter the building with cellular telephones. No other explanation could be offered.

During one of our last visits to Downwind we picked up Phill’s passport and a package that had been sent from England. Phill’s father had recently visited the United States and brought along a Sea Marshall personal EPIRB. When we installed this unit it appeared to be defective. The alarm sounded constantly. The alarm, by design, is very obnoxious. We attempted to debug the problem via telephone calls with the manufacturer in England. We did this at 2:00 in the morning using cellular telephone. As there are many hours difference in time between England and the US, we had to work with them during their business hours. They were very anxious to resolve this problem. They agreed to ship out a new unit from England using priority mail service. We should receive the new unit in a couple of days. The unit did arrive shortly thereafter but things had gone downhill. The unit had apparently been crushed in shipping. When Phill picked it up it had a funny little rattle and was shaped quite differently than the unit that we had on board. When it was opened it was quite deformed. We opted to not even attempt to install it. We packaged it up and promptly returned it to Sea Marshall.

As with every harbor visit, we tackle the projects that are difficult while underway. We rigged the boat with the second and third reefing points. We mounted the supports for the additional fuel cans that will carry on deck. We altered the bimini so it will work with the new bridge that we built for the radar, solar panel and wind generator. While in the harbor we discovered that the valve for our holding tank was jammed and could be moved, not even with force. As Phill tries to persuade the valve, it snaps in several pieces. This now becomes a mess. The v-berth was very carefully packed with all of our paper goods. Fortunately, each one had been compressed into zip-lock bags before they were stowed in the v-berth. The challenge is to get them out of their little nooks and crannies and not gag with the odor of the holding tank. Only the first mate can master these efforts. The skipper no longer has patience for this. On the bright side, it is better that this happened while we were in port rather than while underway. This valve happened to be one device that we did not expect to have problems with since it was only about a year old. Consequently, we did not have spare parts for this device. The chandlery again saves our life. They just happen to have new valves to meet our needs.

We make a final trip to the laundrymat, put away our recent grocery purchases and prepare to depart tomorrow morning. All we have to do is place a call to customs and have them board us and clear us for departure.

 

NOTE: Comments and suggestions should be sent to Jerry Reese, Council Bluffs, IA.

 



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Revised: 20 September, 2005 .