Chapter 2 - Getting Started Again
By lunch time on the 19th of February 2004 I'd checked in with the Port Captain and immigration (you only need 2 copies of your crew list this year, rather than 5 copies 2 years ago and there were no Port fees in Loreto, though there were still charges in La Paz when I got there). The whole process only took an hour this time, but then, I knew the locations of both offices as well as the stationery store ("papeleria") with the copy machine. Also this time I remembered my passport the first time into the immigration office and didn't have to go back to the boat for it. On the other hand, I discovered a hole in the boat just as I was ready to head for the launch ramp at Puerto Escondido. Goodness. That was an unnecessary complication. I know the boat was well centered on the trailer between the tires when we left Seattle and I hadn't noticed her slowly creeping across the bunk boards, but that's what she'd done, whether a bit at a time (as I now suspect was the case) or all in one jump on a particularly bad bump somewhere. One way or another, the starboard chine had snuggled up next to the right tire of the trailer and done neither of them much good. There was a nice build up of black rubber on the white hull. . .and the gel coat and first layer of resin were rubbed off for 2 inches down to the first layer of glass. There were no cut fibers and the hole didn't go through at all, but still. . .it wouldn't do to go off sailing that way. I asked around and ended up finding resin (sold to me in a mineral water bottle out of a barrel in the back), hardener and heavy glass mat (they gave me the tiny piece I wanted) and a cheap brush in a fishing supply shop one block off the main street. Acetone for cleaning the wound came from a hardware store just around the corner, drawn off into a baby food jar of some sort from a bigger jug and almost for free. I jacked the boat up out of her compromising position with the scissors jack from the truck and a chunk of splintery 2x4 from the roadside outside the Port Captain's office. Half their staff came out to give advice and help and the fiberglass bandaid was on and curing in no time. The truck and I left the boat to heal and the glass to harden and went buying groceries, water, beer and rum. . .in sufficient quantities in each case to attract quite a lot of humorous comment in the supermarket (El Pescador, on the main street into town, the only one I've spotted in Loreto). I found very fresh flour tortillas this year in a tortilleria just up the street and bought 8 dozen. They grew a bit stale by the end of the 8th or 9th day out, but were still perfectly tasty and when warmed on the stove seemed much better than hard tack for bread while they lasted. I threw none away. In any event, with everything else loaded, we pulled into the Pemex station and filled all the fuel tanks. . .two in the boat for a total of 9 gallons and the 20 gallon bottomless pit in the truck. Thence 13 miles further South to Puerto Escondido to the excellent launch ramp and secure anchorage. By dark the mast was raised, boom and sails bent on, anchor in its chock on the pulpit, motor on the transom, all in fact ready for the launch except blowing up the inflatable canoe. We slept ashore for the last time.
The morning of the 20th of February 2004 we launched by 0830 at about
the top of high tide, almost no current, just a very slight drift toward
the mouth of the bay. Puerto Escondido has quite a large embayment that
must enter and exit through a very narrow channel and although the change
in tide elevation is not much at this point in the Sea (it becomes much
more drastic further North) nevertheless, the current through the entrance
channel can be challenging for slow boats, especially short tacking into
a not uncommon northerly air. More to the point, the launch ramp is right
in the mouth of the entrance channel and currents at the end of the ramp
can make launching exciting if you're not ready or don't have enough help.
Single handers can almost always find help from the parking lot guards
who watch the place round the clock and are friendly and helpful no matter
what needs doing. The fee structure by the way has changed (again) and
it's really very good value. . .storage for your truck and trailer is
only $20 for a month and use of the launch ramp is $2 each direction.
The parking area is gated and fenced and the guards are on duty at all
times. There is neither a better launch ramp nor better arrangements for
your left behind equipment anywhere I know of in the area.