Subj: Nanjo Chronicals 2001 - Southbound, Part 1

Travels from October 20, 2000 to January 1, 2001:

Ahoy,

We've "dropped the hook" in Zihuatanejo, checked in and returned to Nanjo with a few provisions. We're finally back in the tropical weather - a balmy 90 degrees during the day and only a sheet at night. We put the bimini back up a day out of Zihuat. The sun was summer-like and too much to merely cover up with a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. So let me quickly begin a "bridge" to present from what has happened since San Carlos, last Fall - almost 5 months ago!

Our return to California was a wonderful 7 weeks long. Our bus trip from San Carlos, via Tijuana, ended with a short Greyhound ride to San Diego. A week in San Diego was both productive and relaxing. We quickly purchased the many items we knew we could find there. My sister, Patty, loaned us her van and we made short work of the task. Then we were free to just visit and enjoy our sisters and their families. By the middle of the next week, we were back on Greyhound, heading for San Jose.

We spent Halloween with our granddaughter (and of course, her dad and mom, Raymond and Bonnie). I drove over and picked up Nancy's mom so that she could enjoy the Saarni-Thanksgiving, a three-day affair. And enjoy it, she did! This Turkey weekend celebration demonstrated the beginning of a transition to the third generation - the grandchildren of Auntie Margie and Uncle Wally were preparing more of the dinner choices. That generation was so energetic about their developing education and career development, whichever applied. Their children enjoying their cousins, as their parents had done only a few years ago.

I continued to purchase items for the boat, parts to repair or replace; parts to improve; spare parts in anticipation of their need; food items not found in Mexico. I also spent hours researching digital cameras and finally purchased a Fuji FinePix 2400 online. This required a new laptop computer, as my current one (Kiwi) didn't have a CD. One of Raymond's friends was very helpful and donated a Pentium I, Toshiba Satellite being scraped by his company. Quickly I learned that I also needed Windows 98, as well as more memory. My sister, Lisa, helped with the former and I found a good deal on memory, online.

I practiced using the camera during the Turkey-day festivities, in anticipation of the arrival of our first grandson! Yes, Raymond and Bonnie were expecting the arrival of #1 son. And he was already late - Nov. 17 was his expected "daylighting" date. But he was in no rush.

Geoffrey Philip Suter (GPS) arrived on December 2, a "little man" of 10# 11oz., 22 inches tall. He was so large that Bonnie had to deliver by C-section. She had wanted to have him by "natural", but that would have never happened. In the few days that we had with him before heading back to Mexico, we recognized that while he looks much like Bonnie, his manner is that of a quiet man, much like his dad at the same age. Nancy and I had our opportunity to change his diapers, feed him and hold him till he fell asleep, and then until he got too heavy to hold. We quickly found a pillow under our tired arm would let us hold him longer. My computer returned with many digital photos of our new G.P.S. stored on it, a hi-tech "brag-book" of the first days of the little man who will carry on the Suter legacy.

While the stay was a treasure of memories for us, we only had a couple of warm days. We craved the warmer climes of Mexico. Boy, were we deluded. While San Carlos was warm on the day of our return, it dished out repeated frosty mornings and we were only slightly better off than being north. We feverishly worked on Nanjo's "wet-side". First I had to remove dead marine growth and old anti-fouling, which had bubbled up while being high and dry for two months in the hot and dry desert. We had brought back an electric sander, making the job much easier.

The work area of Marina Seca (the dry storage facility) was in turmoil when we arrived. Apparently they had been encroaching on someone else's land and were being evicted. There was no power or water in the new work area until just a day or so before our arrival. Even the bathrooms and showers had been dry. So our lengthened stay in California was ideal, all things being considered.

Although we had power and water, Nanjo sat on dirt. As the boat next to us used water to test plumbing, mud formed under Nanjo and she slowly settled to starboard, the bulkheads causing doors to not close (or open) and the deck to separate inside. In addition, it wasn't uncommon to find cow-pies around the boat stands each morning. Finally we saw the Brahma bulls and cows that roamed freely. We didn't want to think about what would happen if one bumped a stand. We joked with another boat about this being where boats go to pasture or where cattle enjoy boating.

Finally we were finished with the 5 coats of Mexican antifouling paint, all cured for five days and ready for the water. The night before we were to be towed back to the marina, the trailer was used to hold Nanjo so that I could add a little additional paint to a small section under the keel. The next morning, the yard staff went to reposition the trailer slightly for transportation. Alarmingly, the pads on the trailer pulled off huge areas of paint.

In short, this paint (Trans Ocean) is very sensitive to compression, sticking to the point where the pressure is applied. As the workers were trying to correct the tilt Nanjo had assumed from sinking in the mud, they used the hydraulic stands to do the job. We had to stay in the yard another few days, through Christmas, to repair the damage. Upon inspection of the pads on the trailer, I also found paint stuck, which would be a pressure point. So I found large pieces of thick cardboard to place between the pads and Nanjo's side. Even still I was afraid to look at the antifouling until just a few days ago.

Another boat in the yard, having the yard workers put on the same antifouling, had the same thing happen - their's peeled off. So the yard's theory that I didn't do the job right wasn't supported. One of the yard's foremen maintained that the problem was caused by the hydraulic lifts. I wasn't charged for the additional days in the yard.

During the yard work, a theory about the condition that I had labeled, The Incredible Shrinking John, turned into discovery: While in California, I had done extensive research, reading and talking with my "secret weapon" for diabetes management, Eva Tanner at Emery Cove. During the first few days back in San Carlos we redesigned our menus to include more protein at breakfast and lunch. The proof that my muscles were now rebuilding themselves, from the gradual deteriorating trend, began to show. I was able to continue the very strenuous work with minor pain from muscle strain. A sciatic back pain problem, which I had been treating for almost two years, began to diminish (it is practically gone, in February). I proved that I had been starving myself of sufficient protein in my diet.

You can't imagine how pleased I (we) was (were)! I may write a whole chapter on the diabetic diet I have found to be pivotal in my management program. But for right now, if any of you want to know more, send me your questions. In brief, I'm talking about the glycemic index for carbs, engineering meal metabolism, discovering when glucose spikes cause your HbA1c tests to be high, and how I adjusted my meal timing. It isn't anything you can't read in the library, that's where I got it. But I'm putting it into practice. By the way, every time I return to California, I read every book I can find in the libraries, published within the last two years, about diabetes. This time I got into diet and felt that The Glucose Revolution was the best thing I read. Although we were losing more time staying in San Carlos during this additional week, we did have a nice celebration on Christmas Day. A gringo caf owner hosted a cruiser potluck party at his home. About 70 people showed up. It was better than being at sea.

We slightly decorated Nanjo's cabin in Holiday attire, the work area and Nanjo was so very dirty that we had no more motivation. Our morning began with our favorite breakfast of sourdough pancakes, bananas and smoked pork chops, while listening to tapes of KKSF music complete with Christmas advertisements (Raymond had recorded them just before we left). Then we opened our sparsely filled stockings, cards and personal gifts. It was over quick.

The next day we were being towed to the water. The tides were in the minus range and we had only a little time to get out of the marina and into the anchorage. When Nanjo was barely wet, I was below, adjusting the packing on the prop-shaft, since I had replaced it. Before I was through, another owner of a boat being put in the water was pushing for us to get away from the dock. As soon as possible, Nancy motored us to an end-tie where we could wash Nanjo. After a good scrubbing, an hour later, we were once again proud of her. Nancy carefully moved us out of the channel, with only a few feet of water below the keel.

It was strange being back on the water. Although the water was not that choppy, we still felt the movement. Soon the winds came up and before sunset, we had to re-anchor to correct our dragging. So we had to thoroughly retrain our sea legs and our anchoring skills. But it was sure wonderful to be back in the water.

The biggest surprise began when we found that the bilges were filling with water. I checked the packing gland, followed by the hoses and fittings using seawater. Finally I found water flowing around the freshwater tank in the cabin. I began pulling off panels and framework to find the leak - all the time thinking that the tank must have ruptured as part of the sinking-in-the-mud affair in the yard's work area. Finally I found water leaking through a bulkhead behind the water tank. So the tank was OK. But did I have a hole in the side of the boat? I said to Nancy, "It's either a hole in the side or water coming out of the refrigerator." Oh, NO! Yes. Nancy opened the refer's top and looked at about 20 gallons of seawater! The refer uses a seawater line to pump out water when ice is used. The valve had been left open. Oops!

A few days later, after being satisfied that Nanjo was sea-worthy, we checked out of San Carlos and headed for Mazatlan.

The 390-mile trip was a mix of wind and calm. We spent New Year's Eve at sea, Nancy on watch as the calendar changed to 2001. The Mexican fishermen on the radio, wishing all, "Feliz Ao Nuevo", and, "Happy New Year", entertained her for some time. In addition, she brought on watch with her the little stuffed penguin, 2K, which plays Auld Lang Syne when its belly is pushed. You may remember that he came aboard in Barra de Navidad, where we celebrated the new millennium.

The trip began to develop a list of new projects. First we found that the running lights would illuminate only after 15 minutes or so. Then, a boobie bird got tired of flying and sat on the anemometer, twisting it to where it was useless for reference during night-sailing. Then the wind generator stopped working, going into the dynamic-brake mode. Finally, Steve's (steering vane) control lines were routed wrong, chaffing.

By the time we got into Mazatlan, January 1, 2001, I had a long list of things to work on. Any thoughts of leaving after a short stop for medical provisions and visiting friends, Mexican locals as well as companions from our summer in The Sea, blew away on the 20-knot wind we flew into the Old Harbor on.

Crew of Nanjo