Sunday, January 6, 2019

George, Again


Yesterday was a good day.

I finally found the spare primary fuel filters I have been trying to purchase since November. Intermezzo has Racor fuel filter water separators to protect the engines from diesel fuel contaminants.      Although we have yet to have it happen on Intermezzo, it is not uncommon on boats for the filter elements get clogged by gunk stirred up in the fuel tanks during heavy weather, from sucking fuel from the bottom of near-empty tanks, or from dirty fuel. If a filter gets clogged, the engine won't run, so it's important to have spare filter elements on board. We were down to just one spare on Intermezzo.

Replacement Racor filter elements are usually readily available. However, last Fall, the manufacturer moved its factory across the country and apparently had a lot of trouble re-starting its operations for quite some time. I looked everywhere in the U.S. for filters for two months and came up empty handed.  I returned to Mexico hoping that I might find some here in La Paz.

Yesterday morning I tuned into the daily La Paz cruiser's net on the VHF radio and when the "local assistance" segment came up, I asked if anyone could help me source the Racor filters that I needed. I was delighted when George from s/v Thalia responded with some recommendations. Delighted because George is one of my favorite people that I've met sailing since leaving on this extended voyage. Those of you who have been following this blog may remember him.

I first met George briefly in Puerto Chiapas while clearing out of Mexico to head south in March 2016. The marina manager helps cruisers clear in and out of immigration, customs and the Port Captain by driving them around in the proper sequence in his truck. George and his girlfriend rode in the truck with me and a couple of other sailors as we made the rounds. I didn't talk to him much at the time, but I remember thinking looked like an interesting character.

After clearing out of Mexico, our next port was Bahia del Sol in El Salvador. It turns out is was Georg'e next port, too.  To make a long story short, I spent much more time in Bahia del Sol than I wanted to and during that time got to know George pretty well over quite a few beers.  He watched over Intermezzo while Renee and I took a sightseeing trip inland, helped me when I beached Intermezzo to work on the props and sail-drives and was a good friend when Renee had to leave suddenly when her Mom had a stroke. When I said goodbye to George when I finally left Bahia del Sol on my own for Nicaragua, I figured I might stay in touch via email but that I'd never see him again.

What a pleasant surprise it was one morning seven months later in October 2016 when, in the isolated anchorage of Bahia Ballena in Costa Rica, I see George rowing his dinghy towards Intermezzo. Renee had returned and we enjoyed a dinner on board Thalia, featuring George's homemade pizza and his potent "rum and yellow shit" cocktails. When we said goodbye again I, I figured it was a lucky coincidence to have met up with George again, but very unlikely to ever happen again.

So, last November as I was eating lunch in the cafe at Marina La Paz, you can imagine my surprise when I looked out the window down onto the dinghy dock immediately below and there's George, not  10 feet away from me getting out of his dinghy! I was truly amazed. We had a brief conversation and he invited me to dinner on Thalia. I got busy with launching Intermezzo and boat projects and wasn't able to make the dinner.  I figured that George would be sailing on and that was the last time I'd see him.

By now it's clear that my figuring regarding George is wrong. It will never be the last time I see him. He will pop up again, as he did yesterday on the radio.

George's recommendations for where to find the Racor filters turned out to be spot on. Based on conversations with local boat maintenance people, I believe I purchased five of the last two dozen Racor filters of this type for sale in La Paz. It is a big relief to have enough spares on board for Intermezzo's upcoming journey.

After buying the filters, I met up with George at Marina La Paz and had a beer with him. I enjoyed his company, but was saddened to learn that he recently discovered a serious health problem.  It's still being diagnosed, but it is potentially life threatening. As we talked about it, I couldn't help but feel some optimism for him. I told him I'd always been wrong when I've said goodbye to him, thinking it will be the last time I'll see him. I figure he'll get through this and I'll see him again, somewhere unexpected. I gave him a wholehearted hug as I said goodbye, sincerely wishing him the best and hoping our paths cross again.

In addition to finding my Racor filters and meeting up with George, yesterday was a good day because Intermezzo's crew, Roy and Pete joined the boat.  More about them in my next post.

And as an added bonus, Sir Geoffrey The Heron, paid us a brief visit. Sir Geoffrey fished from, slept on and shat upon Intermezzo on-and-off for a few months last year. He's a very aristocratic chap who walks up and down the dock as if he owns it. We became well enough acquainted that he would allow me sit quietly in close proximity while he fished off Intermezzo's stern, though he remained very aloof to a commoner like me.

George, again.

A few of the last Racor filters in La Paz

Sir George, gracing the dock at Marina Palmira with his presence