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May 2007 Log: Boatyard Guaymas

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Garett: We really tried to wake up at 5:30 am attempting to beat the heat, but instead slept into 6:30 am. Sunrise is at 5:45 am. We started work at 8:30 am and completed the forms for the hull extensions. I then spent a couple hours cutting out all the pieces of mat and bi-axial. As we approached lunchtime and in the heat of the day (90 F) I realized we need some more fibreglass material, so we decided to go into town after our siesta.

We caught the Paraje bus but this own was even older than the other ones we had been on. We sat in the back and were bouncing up and down on every revolution of the back wheels. I don’t think the wheels were round any more.

This is a local bus when stopped….

…this is the bus when it starts moving…
It is bumpy!

When we reached downtown we realized it was deserted as it was the May 1st holiday. We still got some fruit at the super mercado but the Plastico y Resina store was closed. We got back to the boatyard at 6 pm and did out first combo fiberglass job of the first hull side.

Taping the edge recesses in the mold.
Reminds me I need to lose weight!

Carllie inside the mold putting
on the edge recesses.

The molds ready for glassing.

Saving of the abandoned kitten

Carllie: Today we had to go into town to buy a few more supplies. We knew it was Uno de Mayo, the 1st of May, which is a big dia de fiesta (holiday) in Mexico, it being their Labour Day. In our total ignorance, we thought the plastico store might be open so we could get the fibreglassing material we needed. This was not to be.

On our way down the rough unpaved road to the paved road where we would catch the bus, just as we were about to cross the street from the boatyard enclosure, I heard this weird sound in the rough patchy grass between the sidewalk and the gravel road. It sounded like a squeak: "Eow! Eow! Eow! Eow!" Walking on these roads and sidewalks in Mexico outside the busier downtown areas, one often sees tiny lizards skittering away across one’s path, and I actually thought it might be some totally different desert species we had never seen before. So I called back Garett who was a few paces ahead of me, and we looked at the grassy area from whence the sound was coming. I couldn’t see anything, but Garett did and said, "It’s a kitten!" I looked, and there was this very tiny little calico kitten walking towards us in the grass, squeaking away. I guess she had seen us and called out to us, her last hope for survival in this big jungle.

A very anxious six-week old kitten
climbs to the highest possible spot
when I picked her up to bring her
home to safety.

I picked her up, and felt her tiny bones and spine right through her pretty calico coat. She immediately started purring. Even such a tiny cat, so obviously traumatized and weak, has a "contentment motor". Wouldn’t it be nice if we could respond so quickly and positively to the tiny acts of kindness and beauty we encounter in a day? Then she started climbing up my top to get to the highest possible spot. She was weak and obviously dehydrated. We were on our mission to buy supplies, so quickly turned back towards the yard and asked our friends Herb and Juliet through the chain-link fence if they would look after the wee thing until we returned when we would take her off their hands. Of course they said they would. Walking back, to get her to stop the incessant climbing, likely brought on by an instinct to get as far above the dangers of the ground as possible, I held her gently in my hands at chest level and talked to her as I softly blew in her face. For some reason this seemed to calm her, and she relaxed and stopped climbing. By the time I got back to the boatyard gate and doubled back to Herb’s boat, he had put some water in a bowl for our patient. As soon as I put her head down towards the water, she slurped it up greedily. You have to understand how extremely dehydrated she was for her to actually drink water. We would later find over the course of several days of caring for and being seduced by this wee kitten that cats don’t like water in any form–to drink, to bathe, to touch. The only way I could get water into her later was by putting a little water on top of whatever form of fish I was feeding her. Herb told me later that when he gave her a bit of tuna she just attacked it. I bet. The poor little thing was starving, scared, and I believe very near perishing. That’s why her "eows" didn’t sound like the normal meows of a kitten but squeaks.

When we got home, we collected the kitty from her temporary caregivers, and took her home to Light Wave. We figured having to climb up and down a big ladder to get onto the hulls would discourage her from exploring venturing off the boat as the boatyard is full of dogs, only two of which have been tamed, and they would just rip her to shreds and have her for dinner. She wouldn’t last a day.

Looking worn and hungry on
her first day with us, Maggie perches
at our starboard hull hatch, wanting
to get down with us as we are her

Her story must be that some Mexicans, who by and large don’t like cats because all they do is eat and sleep whereas dogs provide security, had thrown her out the window or dumped her, and somehow she had survived by hiding in the grass where she hid from the prowling wild dogs and coyotes that abound in this area. When we happened upon her she might have been out on her own for a couple of days, and was on her last meow so to speak.

The next four days we grew accustomed to "Maggie" and she to us. While we were in town, we did find one big super mercado (supermarket) open, and bought some canned cat food and a pint of milk. I fed the very weak little creature, who was nonetheless squeaking constantly and climbing as soon as I picked her up, a little cat food mixed with milk. She gobbled it up, and I put out a couple of our extra towels, molded into a bed for her. The cockpit is shaded by our awnings from the sun which is daily becoming harsher, so she was comfortable.

It still amazes how this this tiny baby, who obviously had not yet been weaned from her mama, being only six to eight weeks old, was so smart and street savvy. When I tried to introduce her to the two friendly boatyard dogs, she hissed, spat and arched her back. The dogs slunk away. Although we had befriended these two dogs who are fed by the night watchman, and they had been sleeping in the shade of Light Wave during the hot sun, they would having nothing to do with us for the four or five days we had Maggie. What a laugh. One big black lab owned by a Canadian boater, is a non-stop stick chaser. Cohen will run for a stick as long as you want to throw it. One day Garett was throwing the stick for Cohen from the ground beside the boat. Cuddling the kitty on the boat, I walked over to the side to watch the hilarious stick retrievals. Cohen immediately dropped the stick, literally tucked his tail between his legs, and slunk away.

Steve Rankin’s ultimate stick
chasing, dog Cohen, who is scared
to death of tiny kittens.

Garett couldn’t figure out why this enthusiastic dog had suddenly lost all interest in stick chasing. It was because he had seen the kitty, a little thing that must weigh half a pound if that and is no more than 8 inches long bow to stern. Cohen’s master/buddy/owner, Steve Rankin, who has eight cats at home and was later a great help with Maggie, told us that Cohen is scared to death of cats. What a hoot. Shades of Garfield and Odie.


As soon as we introduced Maggie to Light Wave, this tiny beleaguered baby had to explore of course. We did not allow her into our three separate living areas, but she jumped up and down following us around the boat. We were her saviors, and she knew it. That first day, when Garett went down into our starboard hull to get some tools she couldn’t figure out how to get down the steps, but in a flash her little head was peering at him through the little porthole over our head while she "eowed!" her desire to be down there with him. From then on, whenever either of us were in that hull, she appeared at the porthole or at the hatch. Eventually, she figured out how to get down into the hull, but not in comfort! She leapt from the top of the stairs. I was looking the other way and turned around just in time to see her leap and "Bonk!" land on her head. I scooped her up and cooed at her while I consoled her. It took a minute for the shock to register, then she "Yeowled!" her cries of distress while I comforted and cuddled her and told her gently that that’s what you get when you do stupid things. Some mother! I was just glad she hadn’t broken her silly little neck. Just like little kids who insist on touching hot stoves in spite of mother’s warnings, baby animals have to learn their lessons.

Garett worked through the day on our construction project and I worked inside on writing, cooking and reading while our calico friend learned to be content and sleep in the cuddy cabin in her little towel bed. In the late evening after I had helped him with some fibreglassing when it cooled down, we retired to our cuddy cabin to have dinner and now she really had to get in here with us! She "eowed" for quite a while, then hopped up into our walkway, walked forward and peered at us through our big open screened hatch in front of our saloon. We were amazed. This little thing is only about six weeks old, and she immediately figures out how to get closest to us. She tried to sit in the recess for the hatch where she could at least keep us in visual range, but soon realized it wasn’t very comfortable so made her way back to her secure little nest in the cockpit.

Maggie wanted to be cuddled at night
but we couldn’t bring her into our
living space, so I cuddled her each
time I came out into the cockpit,
if she was awake.

Initially, I adopted a matter-of-fact attitude towards our little charge. I was really worried about what would happen to her when we leave Guaymas in June, as we cannot take her with us. How will she survive? If some Mexican people are so unfeeling about cats that they would actually dump a vulnerable little kitten on the side of the road, how on Earth would we find a home for her? If we simply left her in the boatyard, the feral dogs who live here would soon hunt her down. While I hoped to find a home for her, I knew that the only way I could deal with this was to be as objective as possible to try to keep some distance with my patient, as a doctor would with a suffering child I guess. So, I talked to her like this: "No, you can’t have more food. You may as well get used to it. Just relax and go to sleep." But I did pet her and cuddle her regularly to soothe her little heart. I got nothing out of the cuddling, of course. Once she learned she was not in danger, she stopped climbing as much, and particularly if her little belly was full she would soon go to sleep in my hand, cupped against my chest and held into my other arm. She liked to burrow her little head into the crook of my arm, particularly if she was upset–like the day I gave her a bath, and the couple of times she was sick. What any baby wants is the feel and sound of a heartbeat; thus they nestle in, if not with their own mother, with a surrogate. At night, I would come out to use the facilities, and in spite of the fact that she always vigorously voiced her opinion about being left outside while we retired inside, she would be curled up in a sweet little ball fast asleep on her little towel bed. She is a very affectionate little thing, and her rapid reliance upon us and trust in us wore away our crusty resolve, and we fell in love with her.

Sob! Once or twice when she was burrowing into my folded arm, she found a little mole that is right in the crook of my arm. Guess she thought it was the nipple she was seeking, as she immediately started kneading my fortunately clothed arm with her tiny feet as she had done with her mother’s belly. It was not hard to tell this baby had not been weaned when she was ripped away from the comfort of her mother and siblings and thrown out onto the street. In all fairness to the Mexican people, we have to remember that there are a few Canadians and Americans who are just as cruel and unfeeling with animals. Also, the average Mexican has far less disposable income and time than the average Canadian or American, so most of them have no use for a critter that doesn’t contribute something for its keep.

Twice, Maggie was sick. She mewed pitifully, then began heaving just like big humans do, until she threw up what was upsetting her tummy. I soon found out from Herb that cow’s milk is not good for cats as it sours in their tummies. Sure enough, as soon as I stopped putting milk out for her, which she always lapped up probably because it was the closest consistency to mother cat’s milk and quenched her thirst without having to resort to the dreadful water, she stopped getting sick. Interesting, because cow’s milk is not good for humans either. (Garett: By the way, Carllie failed to mention that the other reason she might have got sick was that she had ground a clove of garlic into her food in attempt to "naturally" deworn her. Poor kitty.)

What’s that on your whiskers?
Couldn’t be water!

However, before I learned this little piece of cat wisdom, the second time Maggie was sick it was pretty bad, and the rejected contents of her tummy came out both ends while she pathetically mewed her unhappiness. We learned in the few days we had with our little friend how many tones of voice even a tiny little kitten meow has. This night, she was very weak and mewed weakly and unhappily, not even finding the energy to follow our feet around as she did every time we stepped into the cockpit, nor "eow!" her frustration when we closed the door of the cuddy cabin to relax and have dinner. I was not immune to her suffering, however, and before we retired to the cuddy cabin for dinner I picked her up very gently and cuddled her for awhile, soothing her with my heartbeat and the sound of my voice, while she burrowed into the crook of my arm. All attempts at "objectivity" died that evening. There is nothing like a vulnerable little baby to break down one’s resolve and defences. During our dinner/movie every few minutes I peeked out, to check on her. She had retreated to her towel bed with no protests tonight.

In the middle of the night, when I awoke and checked on her, she had regained her happy buoyant little personality, and was ready to socialize. I was not. After a hard day’s work in the hot sun, each night we are so exhausted we don’t even dream. We have to get up very early in the morning, say 5:30 or 6:00, so we can get in four or five hours of work before mid-day scorching heat, around 1:00 when we have lunch and a siesta. I did cuddle her a bit, to which she promptly responded as always with purring and nestling in. Soon I felt myself nodding off again, so put her back down though she "eowed" her protest.

She would curl up each night in her
little towel bed, like a little caterpillar.
Very endearing, soft, sweet and trusting
that we would protect her.

Later that morning when I got up I was still thinking of her as having been sick and didn’t want to feed her, certainly not milk. She voiced her opinion on that matter, "Eow! Eow! Eow! Eow!" for a couple of hours and even put her face into my plate of breakfast fruit, she was so hungry, but I didn’t get it. (Some mommie!) Finally, when I did put out some of the tuna that Herb had fed her, as soon as she smelled it she went berserk. She didn’t even look at her little food plate, but attacked me (as much as a six-week-old kitten can attack) with vociferous "Eow’s!", grabbing my ankle as I tried to walk away. I gently turned her around and directed her little face at the food. Well! She attacked that Albacore white tuna like she hadn’t eaten for a week. And as this was her third day with us, she really hadn’t fully recovered her strength and then she was so sick she had lost any advantage she had gained. I felt guilty that I had so densely had ignored her early morning pleas for food and kept her waiting until about 10 a.m. Unlike our friends Marni and Peter Siddons who are cruising with their two cats, we were yet to learn the ways of the feline species: enchanting, funny, demanding, opinionated, affectionate, responsive, yet dependant on human kindness.

On the second day of our time with Maggie, I knew it was time to give her a bath. She had been in surviving in the wild and her little face was dirty, though miraculously her white fluffy fur that is the background for the pretty orange and black markings on a calico, was pure white and very soft. I took her into the ladies washroom with a a medium size bowl and my natural cleaning stuff that have no harsh solvents in them: TKO orange spray and Pink Solution. I put lots of Pink Solution in the bowl and filled it with water, then gently lowered her into it, telling her that she wasn’t going to like this. Well, she didn’t. Using my gloved hands, I put little bits of water over her and rubbed, and very soon the water turned black. She yowled her protest non-stop at me, but did not scratch at all or bite until I brought her home in a towel and she gave me a few little bites . I had to hold her quite firmly as she was thoroughly fed up after 15 minutes soaking wet, and told her firmly that I wasn’t going to let her go to get killed. She was so humiliated and anxious she wouldn’t talk to me for an hour, but after that she was my very best friend, even more affectionate than before. She thought I was her mommy as I laid the law down, and cuddled her when I could.

When she was wet, I could see muchos pulgas (fleas) burrowed into her skin, as I had suspected. Steve, who was preparing his boat to leave for the season, has eight cats at his home ranch and loves them. When he visited the vet to get some special flea treatment for the stick-chasing cat-fearing Cohen, he very kindly bought some for me as well, and then applied it. This stuff is called First Line and is far better than flea powder. It’s a liquid form, and Steve applied one drop directly to Maggie’s skin at the ruff of her neck, then massaged it in with the tip of the applicator. The treatment is absorbed into the animal’s system, and all fleas immediately vacate, like within two days. It’s amazing. He had also bought some de-wormer pills for Cohen, and he cut one in half and gave it to Maggie by turning her on her back, gently applying pressure with the thumb and forefinger on each side of her jaw thus opening her jaw, dropping the pill down her throat, and then massaging her neck until she swallowed. Steve explained that an animal will eat the fleas, and then the next stage is that the fleas give the animals tapeworms! Anyway, now our little visitor is doubly protected: from the awful fleas and the even more awful tapeworms. The treatments should last several months.

The parting was very hard, but we had to find a safe home for her as Mexico is not cat-friendly. It is barely dog-friendly. The only reason dogs survive here and are taken by families is for "securidad" –security. A cat, according to one Mexican fellow I asked, only eats and sleeps. On May 5th, after four full days with our darling charge, I got an opportunity to get a ride 15-20 miles to the adjacent city, San Carlos, where there are a couple of big marinas occupied largely by Americans, and a big boatyard. They have a weekly swap meet and I realized this was my best chance to find a loving safe home for Maggie. She is most adorable and appealing now. If we were to wait until just before we leave, six weeks from now, we may not find a home for her and she will be much bigger, more independent and perhaps (though this is hard to imagine) a little less appealing. The car ride there was very upsetting for the wee kitty, but Jacinda, a friendly young New Zealander who is in the boatyard with her mate Clint, helped sooth her. When we arrived at the mini swap meet, I set up the little pet carrier another boater had donated to the cause, along with a sign Garett had printed saying in Spanish and English: Kitten for sale, $100 pesos ($10), including cat carrier, food, medicine. We thought we should ask for a bit of money as then people would think they were getting a deal, whereas if you give something away no one wants it.

There were people all over the place, so Maggie continued to be a little anxious, but went about exploring while I followed her around to make sure she didn’t wander too far. Everyone admired her and a few picked her up. Who can resist a tiny kitten? Eventually after eating she snuggled in and fell asleep in my hand, folded across my chest. Such a darling. Sob!

When we stepped into the cockpit Maggie
followed our feet everywhere. She was near
to being stepped on many times…

One 40-ish woman, Maria, was very tempted as she loves cats and Maggie is so darling and so sweet natured. But she wanted to think about it overnight, in fact she forced herself to do so as she didn’t want make an emotional decision knowing she is on a boat and considering how she would care for the kitten. Anyway, this big kindly looking Mexican fellow came along and stopped, looking at the sign and me holding the purring kitten. This surprised me as I expected no interest from Mexicans. But I went into my sales spiel: "Quierre una gatita?" (Do you want a kitten?) In retrospect, I should have said, "Legustaria una gatita?" (Would you like a kitten?") Turns out he spoke English, so I could extoll Maggie’s virtues freely and give him my wholehearted sales pitch. He told me that his wife loves cats but they already had four cats at home(!!!) My heart sank: four cats, what hope was there? I continued encouraging him, telling him how sweet natured the kitten was, and showing him the flea treatment and dewormer tablet, telling him she was clean of fleas and any possibility of worms now, and how everything was included in the price. He smiled, didn’t say much, and slowly walked down along the other tables people had set up. Maria came back, and hmmed and hawed over the kitten but still wanted to wait overnight. I was a little uneasy with this as although I planned to leave her with a local lady who does a cat shelter thing, I couldn’t be sure Maggie would be permanently and lovingly cared for. Anyway, Maria sauntered off and I sat down with Maggie sleeping in my hand. Much to my surprise, the Mexican fellow came back with much purpose in his step, and $100 pesos in his hand, and said he would take her.

Now my heart sank. Maggie was sleeping and purring in my hand, and I had to hand her over to this fellow, Hermando, who was a total stranger. However, I did and she eowed her protest at being again taken away from mommy. She was still crying as he walked away with the carrier in one hand and Maggie held gently against his chest in the other. I was holding back tears, as I explained to him that I was her mommy, so it would take awhile for her to get used to him, and he seemed to understand that.

Maria watched Hermando leave with the kitten, and realized she’d missed her chance to have a darling companion. I think she regretted it.

I felt awful, and had a big lump in my throat all the way home. When I got home where Garett was working on the boat, he told me he had missed our little friend too. I told him the story of how she had found a good home, but we both felt awful. The rest of the day was pretty tough as we were so used to Maggie’s little "eows" as soon as we stepped up into the cockpit from our work, to her sitting on the aft beam watching us work on the ground at night, to her antics whenever we opened a can of tuna or (goodness gracious!) steamed and fried fresh prawns (she did get 3 cooked prawns chopped very fine, over the space of 3 hours and was in kitty heaven), to her affectionate cuddling as soon as we picked her up, her playfulness and efforts to get into the cuddy cabin or sleeping hull when we had retired to eat or sleep (she immediately found any open hatches and eowed at the screens or laid on them).

It took a couple of days to get over losing our little companion. Early on when I was worried about Maggie’s future, I asked Garett several times, "We had to bring her home, didn’t we?" meaning we had no choice, this little creature was on death’s door and would not have survived with all the stray dogs in this area (there are about 10 in the boatyard alone and tons in the area). Even my logical, even tempered, objective Garett immediately agreed, "Yes. We had to bring her home." He was sure we would find a home for her, and I began visualizing our wall of protection around ourselves and Light Wave extending out to encompass Maggie. I hope you aren’t too disgusted with that. I know it’s not…well wait a minute? It is universal as it’s looking after "God’s" creatures. "I believe I must respect all Nature and should not hurt in word or deed." 

So that’s our poignant story for the month. We still miss Maggie. She was a delightful and entertaining little companion, and in writing this story my heart still bleeds.

These are my shoes, and I think
she knew my scent. Sob! I keep reminding
myself that we couldn’t have taken her
with us, and she is safe in her new home.

Saturday May 5, 2007

Garett: Today is the day of the monthly Boaters Swap Meet at the San Carlos Marina. Carllie though it might be an opportunity to find a home for our new calico boat kitty.

We woke up at 7 am and Carllie got the cat carrier that our friend Jason had given to us, bag of cat litter, 4 cans of Whisker cat food, and the leftover flea removal drops and dewormer pills, and of course little Maggie and got a lift with Ted from the boatyard.

Play time.

After they left I sure missed that cute little kitty. It had only been four days and that kitten had become part of our boat team. I could still see her perched on the aft beam quietly sitting and looking at us fiberglassing for two hours in the dark.

Maggie fascinated with our late night
fiberglassing work.

I would periodically break from my work and meow at her and she would always meow back. I sure miss her… But it would have been harder if we waited another five weeks until June 18 when we leave.

May 2 to May 4, 2007

Molds just about to be pulled off.

Outside molds pulled off the new hull additions.
Doesn’t look very promising yet, does it? Garett
envisioned every step of the procedure, and
reassured me.

View from above of added starboard section.

Complicated jig holds the new stern firmly in position
until we can glass in the sole, the stringers, and
the bulkheads.

Trying to level everything.

Another session ‘glassing late at night
when it cools down.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Carllie: Life in a boatyard is fun, whether it is at home or here in Mexico. It’s a little more fun here because we have befriended the Mexican workers in the yard, and the young Mexican Gabriel fellow who manages the place for his father and lives on the property with his wife and son. Temperatures when we arrived, April 22nd, were about 85 degrees F during the day. Now the temperatures have gone as high as 103 degrees, though for the last several days it’s been "cool" at between 90 and 96 degrees. It’s amazing what you get used to. Thankfully, temperature drops in the evening so far, allowing us to get a good night’s rest.

New friend, Steve Rankin, from Comox.

As of today, after about 8-9 days of buying supplies and Garett’s almost non-stop work with my assistance with decisions along the way, all ‘glassing, and of course feeding the workers, these extensions are really taking shape. You will see when we update our website the progressive stages of the project and how at first the additions looked pretty awkward and weird. Now they fit right into the natural lines of the hulls. We think Light Wave will look much better with these extended hulls.

The sides and stern being held together.

Partial mold of white melamine
particle board for small lower sections.

Jig to hold stern in position before gluing
in the floppy bottom which is
lying like a big tongue on the ground.

Sunday May 6 was the weekly boatyard
potluck barbecue dinner. These are young
friends Jacinda and Clint from New Zealand.

Garett relaxing with some friends.

Monday May 7, 2007 to Friday May 11, 2007

The bottom of the hull bottom
folded up and ‘glassed in

The day after the underside is ‘glassed in
and trimmed up. Looking much more promising!

Gabriel who runs the boatyard for his father,
with his wife Maria Dolores.

Carllie at her mixing station.

Gabriel’s and Maria Dolores’s shy,
blue-eyed son Isaac.

Little filler pieces had to be ‘glassed
onto white melamine molding board.

Wednesday May 9, 2007

Today was an open market downtown, and so we bussed there in search of a used reciprocal saw (commonly known as a "Sawsall"). We did find a really good Milwaukee sawsall for only $70; it would have cost over $200 new.

The open market.

You want tools?
This is the place.

Missing a socket from your socket wrench set?

Does your child want a stuffed animal? Need
company for those lonely night-time passages?

Crowded main sidewalk on Serdan Street where
we caught the bus to San Carlos. School kids get
out at about 1 or 1:30 and they packed the
sidewalks waiting for their buses and flirting
and laughing with each other.

Shoreline road to San Carlos.
It is about 10 miles and 1 hour of bus rides
to get to the only marine store in the area.
We can get general lumber, hardware,
and stuff just a few minutes from the yard.

Zyranja and Carllie at the Star Marine Supply store.

Mother and her happy daughter on the bus.
It is interesting that most mothers in Mexico
stay home with their children. Less money,
but better upbringing!

More cutting.

Late night ‘glassing.

I spent two days making
the frames for the decks.

Fitting the new decks.

King of the mountain. Our new
helipads almost looking good!

Saturday May 12, 2007 – Typical Builder’s Log by Garett for Day 16

 Garett: Today’s jobs done:
  • Woke up really early, before it got hot, and glued in all 32 pieces of hull framing with Carllie

  • Glued on all 9 oz cloth to both sides of new decks
  • Glued in reinforcing for swim ladder
  • Filled in all screw holes on floor frame
  • Faired transoms
  • Took apart rudder hinges
  • Drilled oversize holes for hinges so ready to be epoxy filled.

Midnight update

I just woke up from a little nap after falling asleep in the middle of a video which we tried to watch after eating another one of Carllie’s great dinners.

Today was another day of progress even though it is getting very very hot.. We woke up early at 6 am so we could get and early start to glue in all the pieces that make up the frame for the floors. Carllie was mixing the epoxy and then adding the special 406 filler (glass bubbles) in small batches with the slow hardener and then I coated the glue edges of each piece (32 of them which I cut and fitted yesterday). We are seeing some visible progress and we think that the boat will actually look better, as well as have the real benefits of less hobby horsing, better speed and less noise.

Our usual daily routine is to work from 8 to 2 pm and then take 2 hour siesta break in the heat of the day and then work from 4 to 8 of 9 pm. The temperature hit 101 F by noon and it is too getting hot to sleep in the afternoon. My new strategy to deal with the heat is to soak my shirt, shorts, and hat in the sink every hour and this keeps me cool as the water quickly evaporates in the super dry air (only 20 % relative humidity).

The finished gluing job x 2 hulls.

We have now been out of the water 17 days and we have another 36 days left. This gives us 8 days to finish the transom modification, then 3 weeks to the lifting of the cuddy cabin and cockpit, and then 1 week to prep the boat for the 3 months left alone in the summer. I think we will still make it. This modification of the transoms is a significant modification as it turn out we are adding 4 feet to the boat which is 13% increase. Though all this has been a lot of work Carllie and I both agree it is far less work than building a bigger boat. We just don’t think we have the energy in us to it. Life is too short. The meter is ticking down in life.

Well I am going to spend a half hour working on my article for Multihulls Magazine on adding the hardtop and arch that Carllie is after me to finish by our May 15th deadline and then it is off to bed and see if I can wake up at my ambitious 5 am wake up. Goodnight everyone! Another long day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2006

Carllie: A whole week has passed, and Garett has almost finished his incredible job of extending the hulls. He has done a fantastic job. The extensions are very sturdy and of course the lines of the extensions continue on naturally from the original hull lines. We have included two bulkheads in each extension, one being the original transom of the hull, and the second being in the middle of the new section. These bulkheads, in addition to the stringers Garett glued in along the centreline of the hull sections and along the sides, considerably reinforced the plywood reinforced fibreglass extensions. Garett spent two days building the deck tops for the new sections and ‘glassing them on both sides, and two nights ago we attached them to the stringers on the hull tops with epoxy glue. The extensions were now very strong indeed, no flexing whatsoever. Then last night, after Garett had again shaped the sharp edges of the new hull tops with his grinder, we wrapped the joins with biaxial roving cloth and epoxy. At this very moment, Garett is grinding again, in this Tyvek coverall in the 88 degree F. heat, continuing the fairing process smoothing the epoxy fairing compound he has been applying to the new sections. The object is to get the new sections as fair as possible, then make diagonal lines between the original hulls and the new sections and paint the new sections with whatever yellow paint we can find in the local paint stores here. Here we cannot get our high-quality System Three yellow paint that will exactly match our existing paint, so this will be stop gap until we get Light Wave home. Next time we haul out in Vancouver, Garett will use his big professional sanding block (2 feet long) to fair the extensions perfectly, and we will repaint them with the right type and color of yellow paint.

The first bit of blue fairing
compound on bottom.

Holes over-drilled and filled with epoxy
for the rudder hinges.

Top grid of stringers glued in and
ready for decking.

Deck ready to be glued on with the help
of 60 temporary screws (and the Boatbuilder’s Wife!).

Dramatic backdrop of the surrounding
peaks at sunset in Guaymas.

Carllie mixing epoxy late at night
when it is cool.

Carllie: Light Wave looks noticeably more streamlined with the additional length already, even though the extensions haven’t been painted, as you will see in the pictures. So once we get them painted a close shade of yellow, she will be looking pretty good. Already this is feeling like one of those many improvements we have made on Light Wave where we will be saying, "Why didn’t we do this earlier?" Of course, we didn’t even think about extending the hulls until we were in Mazatlan in January visiting with our friends Joe and Kathy aboard their lovely Seawind 34 cat, Katty Kat. Joe told us that the Seawind company is now doing extensions to the Seawind 34’s, extending the hulls by 3 feet to make the ride more comfortable. At that point the light went on, and over the next couple of months it brewed in Garett’s mind until ultimately it percolated into the defined vision of extending Light Wave’s hulls 3 feet (in reality closer to 4) in addition to raising the cuddy cabin and cockpit when we are on the hard in Guaymas.

It seems an extreme modification, but Garett visualized it all step-by-step very quickly and, just like "cutting out the cuddy cabin and cockpit", he was confident we could do it in a short period of time on a small budget (muchos smaller than the $10 or $20,000 the Seawind Company likely charges Seawind 34 owners to do 3-foot hull extensions!). Garett’s capability and tenacity amazes me daily. He created a detailed list 3 pages long of all the steps involved in building these extensions, about 70 steps in all I think, and we are now down to the last 3 or 4 steps. He works every single day, getting out of bed very early and inspecting his work from the day before, and working almost all day long with a lunch-siesta midday. I usually work with him once the sun goes down doing GRP resin or Epoxy resin mixing, brushing and rolling with him at a very very fast rate. There we are, out there in the dark with our trouble light, the cockpit light and a headlight (like the Borg!) that I wear so I can see what I am mixing, brushing and rolling. The two friendly boatyard dogs, Sassy and Lobo, meander over nearby and we talk to them a bit. Then we chat with the night watchman, Isaac, in Spanish of course as the only Mexicans here who speak English are the manager Gabriel and his wife Maria Dolores. Almost all the other "Norte Americanos y Canadienses" have left now, but still one or two will come by and comment on our industrious work so late at night. It is far easier to work in the evenings, however.

The great thing about our situation is that at our request Gabriel positioned the boat right between two other catamarans (we did not want to be around any monohulls that can topple over in a hurricane), and we happen to within eyesight of the night watchman’s little building, directly across from the washrooms and showers, and also right across from the office. So security is very very good, and the accessibility to the showers makes it that much easier keep cool during the day with two or three showers, and one final shower after our late night ‘glassing sessions. Then we retire to our cuddy cabin to watch some movie or TV show we have downloaded with the great wireless Internet connection we very fortunately have here. We contribute a measly $10/month towards its expense, and feel it is well worth it as we can also enjoy making long Skype phone calls to our friends, and receiving and send emails and completed articles easily. Last night we just finished polishing up Garett’s next great "how to" article for the July-August issue of Multihulls Magazine, entitled "A Hardtop for the Working Cat", and sent it out with 14 photos via email lickety-split. Ahhh! The joys of technology. As long as you don’t have to be physically a part of the world that creates it, that is!

It is now 12:09 p.m., and Garett has spent about an hour grinding while I’ve been writing. He is into the tostadas and wonderful Herdez salsa sauce, so it’s time for me to make lunch! My chief roles in this boat modification process are to keep the boat swept of dust as much as possible; gradually clean out the interior of the boat readying her for our absence while she is alone on the hard; mix GRP resin or epoxy resin, brush and roll onto matting and roving; and most importantly buy groceries and feed the designer builder! What a guy! You folks won’t believe the difference in Light Wave when we sail down the Fraser River to our home marina next July! Will any of you be on a boat to meet us in the Gulf Islands, we wonder? It is possible to charter boats, you know! Wouldn’t that be great??? There’s a seed planted.

As I have said before, my cooking has become far more creative and interesting during this voyage. I make really interesting sushi now, and I now know how to make roasted vegetarian pizza that is to die for! I also make a really wonderful bread called Irish Freckle Bread and in spite of our avoidance of chocolate for the last five years, a wonderfully easy chocolate cake that requires no eggs or butter, called Mud Cake, courtesy of Judy Lloyd on Deja Too. This cake actually tastes better when it’s cooled and retains its moisture 3-4 days if well wrapped and kept in a ziplock bag. In addition, if I have access to real feta cheeseI make a Greek Salad that’s a pretty close replica of the to-die-for Greek Salad at the Greek House Restaurant in Winfield that we visit as much as possible when we are visiting Kalaway Bay Resort on Kalamalka Lake in the summer months. (You can or will soon be able to find all of these recipes are in Great Cruising Recipes section of this website.) The creative cooking and the fact that good food is ready for him to eat when he’s ready for a break seems to inspire Garett and keep him going in his creative boatbuilding work. I am also whittling away at the cleaning, organizing and sorting jobs I would like to finish before we leave Light Wave in June.

Estevan, one of the employees of the boatyard,
and his daughter Nicole Esmeralda.

The real nasty fiberglass grinding
needs a special suit
so I don’t get the itvhy fibers on me.

Light Wave at sunset looking more like a boat again.

New sterns in the final (but seemingly interminable)
fairing stage.

Garett doing more sanding…

Sunset in the boatyard.

Thursday May 17, 2007

Garett: It has now been 21 days into our "little" project and the last three days has been the hard work of fairing the hull extensions. This means applying dozens of small batches of filler and then sanding it off with a combination of power sander, board sander, and hand sanding, getting hull additions progressively more level and fair. Hard work. By the time we have dinner at 8 pm I am really tired. It looks like we will do some painting in next few days.

…even more sanding…(great for the stomach
and arms!)

Applying even more fairing filler…

Dogs Days of Mexico

Carllie: The first night we stayed here in the boatyard on Light Wave, I woke up to a chorus of dogs and, I thought, coyotes howling and barking up a storm. There are 20 to 25 feral dogs in this boatyard and the one adjacent to it, and every night they take turns starting the chorus. I doubt if there are any coyotes nearby, though there could be. The dogs howl like nobody’s business. Some sound like ambulance sirens; no wonder a siren gets them going. If one starts, very soon they all join in.

Two of these dogs were quasi adopted by Isaac, the night watchman, several years ago. They are Sassy, a very pretty female, and her "son" Lobo, who has a serious under bite. For the first week of our residence, Sassy and Lobo rested in the shadow of Light Wave during the heat of the day. Then, we adopted Maggie, our little kitten, and the two dogs would have nothing to do with us. For the last few days, I have been watching out for Sassy during the day as she is ailing. She appears to be blind, and she hasn’t eaten for five days now, though she does drink water. We are hoping she is doing a cleansing and will resume eating and get better soon.

Lobo, one of the boatyard dogs
with a serious under bite.

The first day we were here, we went down to the water and found the cutest little puppy being entertained by a group of workmen. At the time, she was only a couple of months old and when I picked her up, she "mewed" and sang like a baby. She has always loved to play with our feet and shoelaces while we are doing our morning exercises, pulling Garett’s shoelaces and biting my ankles.

This adorable female puppy, a month or two old,
is the pup of one of the feral dogs who live
down by the water. We visit her most mornings
when we go down there to exercise. She’s much bigger
now, three weeks later!

One young New Zealander, Jacinda who is here with her mate Clint, has taken the puppy on and spends some time each day scratching her tummy, picking off fleas off, and feeding her. As a result, at the time of updating this website three weeks later, the puppy is quite well socialized and comes gamboling towards us as soon as she hears our voices in the morning. She lives in a space under a slab of concrete at the waterfront, and her mother very cautiously watches from afar whenever any of us visit. Although the puppy still goes after her mama’s teats, I think she will soon be weaned and will be in as desperate a state as the rest of them for food. Though I think they do get discards from the fishermen and packing plant nearby. Except for Sassy, Lobo and the puppy, all of these feral dogs back off immediately if you call to them. They are scared of humans, probably because they have been kicked or had rocks thrown at them. Some Mexicans have a very different attitude towards animals. I can only say that I am thankful I was able to find a home for Maggie the calico kitten so she would never have to try to survive this "dog eat cat" world!

Update May 20: After two or three days of babysitting Sassy in the cool shade under Light Wave, coaxing water into her as we could, patting her and scratching her neck, she worsened and died yesterday. This was pretty hard on me, as I stayed with her right until the end and she was in a lot of pain, convulsing and trembling. She was completely blind for the last few days of her life, yet responded immediately when she heard the voice of the night watchman, Isaac, who had adopted her and gave her love, food and water each night. Though she was so weak she couldn’t move, after not eating for over a week, her tail would thump and she tried to get up. Dogs, particularly sweet-natured ones like Sassy, add so much to our lives, and it is very sad to lose them. Sassy died very young, only 3 years old, as she had some kind of stomach sickness.

Saturday May 19, 2007

Garett: The fairing is almost done. My arms can’t take much more. (C: His hands were so sore last night that while we watched a video I spent about an hour massaging them with a special cream.) Just a little more this morning and then we can put some primer which will at least change the color to something else other than fibreglass and fairing brown.

Garett painted on a special grey epoxy barrier
below the waterline.

We are now down to 29 working days before we take the bus to Phoenix on Monday June 18. I hope we make it.

Sunday May 20, 2007

The fairing is now done and we finally put on some primer.

Nice white primer.
Yellow still to come.

Though it would have been nice to have been out for the three last weeks cruising to some of the anchorages in the northern Sea of Cortez, we both agree that it has been better to do the boat work now while it is still is reasonably cool. We will then be able to relax over the summer and be all keen and ready to go in September when the water is even warmer than it is now.

Monday May 21, 2007

We still had to do the painting of the hull extensions, but since we had to wait a couple of hours between coats of paint we decided to dive into the raise the center cabin project.

We spent the next two days taking everything our of the center cabin. Boy we sure have a lot of stuff! We had eight big boxes of stuff which we piled up on a pallet beside the boat. No wonder we are so low in the water! In the process, Carllie gave away a few things that we don’t use.

We then had to disconnect all the wire, plumbing and antennas that came from the hulls into the main cabin. Let me tell you, there are a lot of wires. I did manage to rig some outside wires so we could keep our refrigeration unit going for the next couple of weeks and Carllie could continue to make our meals here.

We had originally thought we would stay in a nearby motel for the one week when the cuddy cabin would be unlivable, but we decided we could still use the port hull for sleeping and just do some light meal preparation in the covered area under the boat next to us. This began our 16 day span of living in our port sleeping hull and eating our evening meal while watching a downloaded movie in there as well.

Wednesday May 23, 2007

Today we took off the hardtop and the whole stainless arch leaving no shade in the cockpit. That didn’t really matter for long because we cut out the whole cockpit floor too.

Our normal pattern of waking up at 6 am and working until 1 pm, when we would take a siesta changed as it started getting hotter and hotter. By noon it was always around 100 F or above and was impossible to sleep so it just became easier to soak my t-shirt with water and keep working with its cooling effect. (C: We both had three or four showers a day to cool off. I never used a towel, but let the water evaporate from my skin, thus cooling me for a longer period of time.)

After putting support jacks under the center cabin, I then got out my new used "Sawzall" reciprocating saw with a big 10 inch blade and for two days literally went right around the whole center cabin making a about 100 surgical cuts to in some way minimize the amount of rebuilding, fairing, and painting. (C: This was a very very traumatic time for me. Garett literally carved up our vessel, and it was only my faith in his engineering and building abilities that kept me calm.)

Saturday May 26, 2007

With the center cabin and cockpit now totally detached from the rest of the boat and the mast being supported by the adjustable halyards (the fixed wire shrouds and headstay had to be completely detached and we had to have new chainplates manufactured by a local stainless shop), I slowly began the process of jacking up ever so slowly the cabin with the mast still on top. I would turn the jacks up 1 inch and then let the halyards go an inch. Inch by inch we eventually raised it six inches. It only took a couple of hours to go six inches but it then took a day and half to get it exactly lined up and square by putting in special guide pieces so the cabin would slide into position.

Monday May 28, 2007

With the cabin and mast now up six inches I then began gluing in the all the replacement bulkheads and joining pieces. There were about 20 pieces that need to be carefully fitted and glued in.

All the while we kept living in the port hull and started on our 16 day Guinness World Record string of eating a tuna sandwich with a salad for dinner closed up in the port "sleeping hull", closed up with fine screens over the hatches. These screens not only keep out the mosquitoes, they cut down on about 75% of air flow, so it is much hotter in our sleeping hull. All our other daytime meals were eaten in our outdoor living area near our workshop.

Our shaded outdoor workshop, dining,
and living area.

Spanish Class

While we were doing our boat work we made numerous trips to the local "ferreteria" (hardware store) which is operated by Jorge and Elvia, who both speak very good English. Over the ensuing three weeks we got to know them quite well. They asked us if we would be interested in meeting with a local family who wanted to learn some English while we could learn some more Spanish. We were very enthusiastic about the opportunity and agreed. Jorge then introduced us to Salvador, his daughter Perla, and her boyfriend Giovanni. Over the next three weeks we met Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 to 6 pm at the boatyard and had a combined English and Spanish class.

Jorge at his ferreteria with a
million and one products of
virtually everything.

Jorge’s lovely wife Elvia who works
side by side with him and also
knows where everything is and
what everything costs.

Here we are hard at work at our language class
in the boatyard.

After three weeks of lessons, Salvador invited us to their home for lunch.

Salvador and Coyo’s home in Guaymas.

His caretta from which he sells
quesadillas on a street corner
from 7 to noon

With Perla in her family home.

Giovanni, Garett, Perla, Carllie and Salvador.

Salvador’s mother Josefina, called "Fita",
and his wife Coyo who is a fabulous cook!

We enjoyed huge prawns and fish deep-fried in batter,
salad vegetables and rice for lunch.

Our boatyard worker friends Miguel and Estevan

Meanwhile back at the boatyard…

One of our diversions while working so hard day in and day out was Sissy, a very perky two-year-old German Short Hair pointer hunting dog, owned by a fellow Canadian, Ron Pryde. Sissy loves to chase things, particularly sticks and the tiny lizards that flit all over the boatyard from under a boat to rock to bush to rock. She also took great interest in the boatyard cat that we befriended. Sissy tried very persistently to provoke the cat into running. If the cat would run, she could chase him! The cat was onto her, however, and only got slower and slower, blinking slowly, walking ever more slowly, and even nodding off while Sissy was around. Sissy would take runs at the cat, a very pretty cream-colored feline who is in fact very long, and was very skinny when we first got to know him. If Sissy had in fact ever connected in a serious way with the cat, Sissy would have been the loser.

Sissy trying the provoke the boatyard cat
into running. "You run! I’ll chase!"

Garett and I threw so many sticks and lumber
for Sissy, we are sure our arms got longer.
Sissy saw our stack of bits and pieces of lumber
beside the boat as the Mother Lode, and liked to
pick the biggest chunk to chase.

The boatyard cat, who is by now a little fatter
slept in the shade under Light Wave
during the day, and yawned prodigiously
at Sissy’s frustrated attempts to provoke him.
into running away.

You could never throw too many sticks or
chunks of lumber for Sissy. It didn’t matter how
hot it was, 103 or 108 degrees F. She kept going
all day long. Her owner took her down to the shore
to fetch sticks in the water 3 or 4 times a day.

Sissy returning with her stick,
actually it was a piece of lumber from
our wood pile…

SIssy getting ready to go after I faked
to the left first

.. and off she goes at high speed…

Sissy the ultimate stick chasing dog.

Carllie: The funniest story about Sissy and the cat was just a day before we left the boatyard. Garett was always trying to provoke Sissy. He imitated her howling bark, which she did periodically throughout the day and sometimes at night, just right to get her going. And if the cat was under the boat, he would say, "Sissy! Go get the cat! Go get the cat!" Well the last day, I hear him saying "Sissy! Grab the cat! Grab the cat!" and I say, "Garett! Stop doing that! You’re just provoking her." Of course, he keeps at it. About a minute later I hear Garett say "Oh no! Sissy!" Then he’s saying "Sissy grabbed the cat!" Apparently, the cat was sound asleep, and Sissy comes over to visit Garett. She spies the cat. Garett is saying "Sissy! Grab the cat!" and quick as lightning she bounds forward and grabs the sleeping cat by the neck, gives it a little squeeze, then bounds back about three feet to the safety zone." The cat jerks awake, twitched, looks dumbfounded and shocked (I mean, "I thought you knew what the rules were here you dumb dog!"), makes sure Sissy is back behind the no-go zone, and goes back to sleep. We laughed and laughed about that one. It is a sign of Sissy’s frustration with the non-playing cat over two weeks that she actually grabbed it. Luckily, the genes of hunting dogs keep them from biting down on the birds they fetch so she didn’t do any serious damage to the cat and get herself royally swiped in return.

This adorable female puppy, a couple of weeks old,
is the pup of one of the feral dogs who live
down by the water. We visit her most mornings
when we go down there to exercise. She’s much
now, three weeks later!

This is how much she grew in
seven weeks. She already has significant
scars on her head from being "whupped"
by the bigger dogs to teach her to mind her
manners and stay in her own pack’s territory.

Garett with our new mascot.

Life in the boatyard

Carllie: Every day we woke up very early before the hull got really hot with the sun. Sometimes before the sun got too hot I went for half-hour runs up the road and back before we got started, and in the last week Garett joined me once and went on his own once. We walked down to the shore to do some morning exercises; I prepared some fruit for breakfast (often a huge piece of papaya with lime and a banana each or a big piece of watermelon), and Garett would start his boatwork, while I swept down the inside and outside walking areas of the boat, did laundry, went to town to buy produce or work supplies, made meals, washed dishes in the ladies washroom, or did laundry outside in a pail.

Here is our shaded workshop
and outdoor living and dining area.

Carllie at her outdoor laundry spot.

This is the mesquite tree next to Light Wave that
was almost dead when we arrived, and grew very
lush and spread while we were there as every day
we dumped our grey water on it. By the time we
left, it was providing good "sombre" (shade) for
Carllie’s laundry and the workers lunch break.

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About Author

Garett Hennigan

Garett Hennigan is a mechanical engineer who in partnership with his wife, Carllie, built a 28 foot catamaran, Light Wave, in 1999. He has sailed extensively with his wife through Mexico, Hawaii and now back in the Pacific northwest with over 20,000 sailing miles and over 5000 hours of boatbuilding experience.

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