Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Marina Chiapas: Boat Chores

It's hot and muggy here. During the day, the sun blazes but there is often an afternoon breeze that makes it bearable. At night there is no breeze and the hot air just lays heavily. The cabin fans help a bit, but I'm sweltering most of the day and night in 90 degree humid heat. The only pleasant conditions are between about 3 and 7 a.m., when the temperature drops into the mid-70's, refreshingly, pleasantly cool.

I'm getting boat chores done though, despite the heat.

On Monday, I got a ride into town with Memo, the general manager of the marina. (Memo is the short form of Guillermo, like Bill is for William.) I needed to pick up some solvent, he needed to pick up a new pump for the marina's domestic water system. I was able to help him a bit, working out if the motor for the pump was sized correctly. He was able to help me find the methylated spirits I was looking for. His family is connected with a local hospital and we went to the chemical supply store where the hospital gets its chemicals for lab tests etc. They have everything. I bought what I needed and then asked if I could buy some acetone for fiberglass work. I found out that to buy that solvent I needed to write a letter explaining how I intended to use the acetone and produce identification. Apparently, acetone is used to make methamphetamine and the authorities have placed restrictions on its sale here.

Memo and I enjoyed a taco lunch on the way back to the marina. I asked him about the tsunami that I had heard hit the marina in September of 2017.  I thought it was just a few waves that moved the docks around. It was much worse than that. The three tidal waves were so high, they lifted the floating docks over the tops of the pilings that secure them. The tops of these pilings are nine feet above the high tide! The wave inundated the land around the marina, getting high enough to flood out the electrical controls of the travelift, which are about at chest height. Fortunately, the docks jammed themselves amongst the pilings and didn't float away and no boats were damaged or people hurt. Memo told me it was quite a repair job to get the marina back in operation. Looking at the place now, there are few signs that anything had happened, although I notice they park the travelift on higher ground than they used to.

Yesterday I got started on my big project; resealing the perimeter of the forward window on the port hull. Both forward windows have leaked, the one on the starboard worse than the port, but it is in the head, so a little water there is only an annoyance. Water leaking from the port window gets onto the bedding of the berth, which is more than annoying, especially if someone is sleeping there. Neither are big leaks, but leak enough when pounding through head seas to want to fix them. The leaks appear to be due to the original sealant not bonding well to the Lexan window material.

The windows are otherwise securely adhered to the hull, so I decided to just replace the sealant to the depth of the thickness of the Lexan. Yesterday I sliced and dug away old sealant. It wasn't too hard or dirty, but it was hot, sweaty work, crouching on the dock under the blazing sun. When I got the sealant out, I set to removing its residue from the fiberglass and edge of the Lexan with sandpaper. That worked pretty well, but was tedious. And hot.

This morning, I wiped down the surfaces carefully with my newly obtained methylated spirits to get them free of any remaining contaminants. Then I applied the new sealant, Dow Corning 795, a silicone sealant used for structural glazing of buildings and recommended by other Leopard cat owners who have repaired their windows. It was easy to get the sealant into the joint with the caulk gun and I tooled 90 percent of the sealant with a popsicle stick to a nice finish. Ten percent is tooled not so nice. I tried making it look better, but every time I touched it, it just got worse. So I stopped and accepted it as "good enough". I'll probably take a stab at a cosmetic repair after it has cured.

I sure hope this repair works, because I'd really not like to do it again. Especially in the tropics.

I got done with the window repair earlier than I expected so I jumped to pickling the watermaker for while I'm gone for almost two weeks. You have to flush the watermaker every five days with fresh water so microbes don't grow and foul the membrane. If you can't do that, you have to "pickle" it to kill the little buggers. When I last left the boat in Ixtapa, Roy was on board and did the flushing. No Roy this time, so pickling required. It was hot down below as I pickled.

I also got laundry done by one of the marina guy's wife. Doing laundry this way involved no sweltering.

Just a few more things on the list, and them I'm ready to leave Intermezzo again for a little while.

Window Repair: Digging out the old sealant

Window Repair: All cleaned up and masked

Window Repair: Finished, looks good enough five feet away

Window Repair: Finished, but not perfect close up