Roads in and around La Paz can easily disorient anyone the first few times they drive around town; possibly as a result of the one-way traffic and four way stop signs. Mexican rule number one says that stop signs are not actually stop signs but sort of a yield sign. As a passenger, I scrutinize every business and commit to memory some, for future use. My driver (Bad Ivan) I bombard with questions like what does this sign or that one mean.
I see Honda and Yamaha but, where is Kawasaki? I only notice small bikes, about the size of pizza delivery machine, 100cc to say 400cc. Forget the motorcycles. We are on a mission for boat parts and/or tradespersons.
Our new friends Sharon and Ean, on a 44′ Leopard Catamaran commented as to how cool the temperature inside the Western Flyer feels in comparison to their catamaran. It is now 91 degrees outside. Today, I am also on a mission for them, to find the window tinting guy that did our entire boat.
For Carl, a 74-year-old single sailor, on a 41 Benetaeu, I am on a boat project mission of finding him sound deadening material to shield his noisy Perkins. Carl says that his mechanic told him his Perkin engine does not like to be run at such a low rpm. Carl says if his Perkins were quieter he would.
Ean wants to keep cool and Carl wants a quiet boat. Bet you didn’t know Patti and I are now the coolest ones on F dock? Bad Ivan pulls up to a paint store while texting with the other hand. I jump out and quickly ask the counter woman for 400 grit sandpaper and a brush. She strangely looks at me like she has never heard of sandpaper. Using my hands to add sense of purpose does not seem to work.
Perhaps I am not pronouncing sand paper correctly or she is too busy also using her cell phone to coordinate her pilgrimage to the beach. I walk out of the store and tell Ivan I we need a marine store and not just a paint store.
I am now hungry but, our next stop is close by. A fiberglass place that builds anything from water tanks to pangas. I show up here to once again bargain the 9200 pesos per fiberglass water tank that still seems high. Neither worker can reach the owner by phone.
Perhaps he is already at the beach. The black and white Smokey and our Gang pit bull puppy now has my left leg in a stronghold, and won’t let go. I drag the puppy around and ask if he is for sale. The worker says the pup was a gift but, that he could call the guy and ask for another pup.
My mind quickly recalls our chocolate labs mischiefs, dog hair, potty training, pooping runs and very quickly say NO, not even if the pup becomes permanently affixed to my leg. I yank the pup off my shoe laces and rub his fat head before heading back out.
We now pull up to Mercado Bravo. This is a complete mini marketplace for all your freshly hacked up beef, chicken or fish meats and anything resembling produce, homemade tortillas and lunch counters. Bad Ivan only visits one counter, the best one. The chili rellenos are my favorites. In the pick up truck bed we are carrying five freshly cut one inch hurricane mooring lines. We still need to find an old guy with braiding skills. These are my future hurricane mooring lines. Non of the younger guys seem to possess the art of line braiding
At the food counter I order two of the natural juices. Last week it was guava, this week it is a surprise. Two empanadas for Bad Ivan and one chili relleno plate for me. Delicious.
When we are done and it comes time to pay, the counter girl possesses the same math skills as her mother. It always appears to me like they short change themselves. How could they possibly serve food this cheap. Today she tells me it is 150 pesos! 150 pesos for two full meals and four glasses of this mystery juice. No complaints by me, I pay up and squeeze a tip into the coffee can and lid.
We drive by an unusually rustic furniture maker. Perhaps if I was in the market for Harry Potter type furnishings and wanted to recreate Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I now find myself inquiring about engine exhaust hoses. Another project I just thought about. This is holy week, that’s why we see so many pickups loaded with camping gear about. All are trying to get out of town but first, fill their coolers to the max with ice and beer. The pick up bed truck bed always appear to never be big enough for the task.
We now arrive at our marina in the heat of the day – 1:00 p.m. Several amigos on the dock are still as busy as worker bees. Bad Ivan is still trying to make a few extra bucks before he also loads up his truck and makes that required Holy week pilgrimage to the beach. I whip out the newly acquired 400 grit sand paper and begin prepping the boats rails. Bad Ivan takes control of the Cetol and brush. This guy is amazing when it comes to painting. Without so much as one piece of blue tape to cover rails or fiberglass he goes at it without spillig a drop. I on the other hand cannot trust myself to paint without damaging anything I wear.
I am now over heated. For his efforts today he gets paid $40 US, lunch, beer and appetizers. Of course I also partake in celebrating another project – completed. I call him Bad Ivan because there are two Ivan’s around the marina. Sometime ago, I hired this Ivan to shine up my stainless steel. He did half the job and then I never saw him again. A certain amount of time passed, the embargo is now over, and he is back in good graces and on the Western Flyers payroll. To recap, today is not far from an average project day.
Tomorrow I may allot myself one full rest day. So, how do I manage to keep moving about all day on what other Defever owners consider a 41′ a small boat? Possibly because I simply “love” messing about on boats. In case you are still wondering how Mexican project management works. A perfect example is what I will now refer to as my “boom project. This project called for the installation of one medium-sized sailboat winch onto the Western Flyer’s boom. When completed my crew can easily hoist the “Flyer”, our catamaran inflatable dinghy, powered by a strong fast running ’74 era ten horsepower Evinrude.
For this boom project I need a sailboat winch. So, first thing this morning I ride my mountain bike to our nearest boat yard, to purchase a promised winch for 2400 pesos. The owner tells me that the winch is now gone – as in sold.
A perfect fit, a Maxwell #16 winch and handle for $150 U.S. With exhaustive apologies, another winch is quickly promised. As soon as I ride my bike back to the Western Flyer the new winch is found. I pedal myself back to the boat yard and gladly hand over 2400 pesos for a used Barent #16 winch and winch handle.
Sooooo – that now explains that left side back pain! I carried this “heavily” built sailboat winch on my back in a Baja Ha Ha token gift backpack.
Bad Ivan finally shows up and we talk boat projects. Sacrifical zincs, engine detailing, engine room painting, etc. He drives me to town in search of a simple roller and handle. Three or four stores later, we have now have Chilean wine, distilled water, bottled water, two add’l dive weight belts, and acetone, but, no roller and handle. Shit! What happened! I’m hungry again.
What happens is that one store may carry a painting brush handle but not the roller. Finally, we find both pieces and I buy them. My used Barent sailboat winch will also require regreasing. That can wait till tomorrow.
I first started this story about two weeks ago so we are now much further along on boat projects, almost to the point of saying – done! Retired life today, is anything but structured and boring. How long can I go on like this – till the next boating project.