Saturday, July 13, 2013


Felix and Nazario at the Puerto Isla Mujeres haul-out basinWe were finally able to coordinate getting the boat hauled out and the fiberglass repair on our damaged skeg started. It took scheduling the lift at the boatyard, finding a reliable fiberglass repair person, and locating lodging for the duration of the work. It all came together for us on Thursday morning, thanks in large part to the friends we have made here in Isla Mujeres.

Nazario, the captain of Ditty Wah, the beautiful sport fishing boat in the slip next to Whispering Jesse, speaks excellent English. He also knows Louis Fernando, the boatyard manager at Puerto Isla Mujeres, and he contacted him on our behalf to get an estimate on the haul-out.

Nazario in the water after adjusting the lift straps on Whispering JesseTeresa and Louis, who own the Color de Verano apartments where we have stayed many times, have used Roberto, a fiberglass expert from Cancun, for work on their own sailboat. Roberto speaks no English, but Teresa contacted him for us and set up an appointment for him to meet us at the boatyard on Thursday afternoon.

Eric, the owner of El Milagro Marina, let us apply a trade that we had worked out for a magazine article I am writing about the marina to lodging in one of his studio units. We needed a place to stay because the boatyard does not permit people to live aboard their boats while they are there being worked on.

Early yesterday morning, Nan and I packed up the clothing, computers and other items we would need and put them in the marina's office for safekeeping until we could check in to the studio in the afternoon. We removed the awning, hatch-mounted air conditioner, and other equipment from the deck and prepared for departure. Nazario and Felix, the marina's resident handyman, showed up on the pier just before nine o'clock to assist with the dock lines. I fired up the engine and we shoved off, motoring very slowly toward Puerto Isla Mujeres, located on the channel that connects Isla Mujeres's bay to Laguna Makax.

Whispering Jesse's damaged skeg comes into viewWe were met by two boatyard workers at the haul-out basin, and a third drove the lift over. Nazario jumped in the water to ensure that the slings were placed correctly under the hull, and then Whispering Jesse was slowly on her way up and out of the water. There was a round of exclamations as the damaged skeg came into view. The broken skeg shells remained in place, even after the hull was power washed, but they were hanging on only where they joined the bottom of the rudder.

Roberto had agreed to see us at one o'clock, and Nazario was kind enough to return to the boatyard to speak with him for us. While the two spoke in rapid Spanish, Roberto evaluated the damage, pulled a hammer and chisel out of his tool bag, and pounded a horizontal crease into the bottom of each skeg shell. He then levered them both off, exposing the raw structural fiberglass beneath. We had not even discussed a price yet, but there was no turning back now.

Nazario and Roberto discuss how to repair the damaged skeg
Roberto made some mental calculations and then spoke rapidly with Nazario again. Nazario pointed at the skeg and asked several questions, then turned to Nan and me and said that Roberto would fix the skeg for 9,000 pesos. I pulled out my iPhone to do the monetary conversion using the calculator app. It worked out to about $750, which seemed like a very good deal. We shook hands on it. Roberto then requested 2,000 pesos in advance, but we had only 1,000 with us. We promised to return with the difference the next morning, when he would begin the work.

Structural fiberglass beneath where the damaged skeg shells were
Nan and I pedaled back to El Milagro on our folding bikes confident that we were in good hands with Roberto. We thanked Nazario and Felix profusely and gave them gifts of beer and cash to let them know how much we appreciated their help.

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