puerto vallarta, mexico.
I don't know why it feels like we've been away for so long as it has only been a couple of months, but we are both happy to be back here and taking it easy with a few luxuries like swimming pools and grocery stores at our fingertips. It makes us forget any hardships we may have faced while out cruising with two babies in the Baja sun.
We forget so much so quickly that we are able to come back to our senses and curtail the long list of boat improvements that we had so vehemently set down on paper just weeks earlier. Just pulling into a marina that does in fact cost us a few hundred dollars a month, actually ends up saving us ten or fifteen thousand over the course of a summer.
Watermaker? Gone. Solar Panels? Gone. DC refrigeration? Gone. Those are the big ones. Others have been crossed right off as well.
We're planning on cruising the Sea of Cortez next season. The kids by then will be the perfect age. Really, Ouest is already a perfect age to be out here. Lowe is just a little young. But pack a few months more on him and he'll be a blast too. Really the biggest issues we had with cruising this season didn't come from weather, or water conservation, or power consumption, they came from morning naps and crawling.
Lowe's morning naps made doing anything as a family before noon nearly impossible. But they weren't something that could simply be cut out. They were essential. And crawling? Crawling in Mexico as a general rule is not advisable. For one, the ground is scorching hot. And two, the ground is generally covered in either dirt or cement. Crawling simply does not work. You need to be on two feet to adequately appreciate Mexico. That's a little tip for any kids under one reading this.
So anyway, by the time we fell asleep that first night back here at the dock we were already concluding that adding a bunch of expensive equipment to the boat wasn't going to improve our quality of life over the next few months. Spending the summer months shelling out thousands of dollars and spending many many hours installing these things, just wasn't going to be worth it.
The argument could be made that these things would pay for themselves in the long run. And that may be true. But at this stage, with the kids this little, we're finding that we actually enjoy being in a marina now and then. We like being able to step right off the boat with Ouest's bike and let her tear off. We like letting Lowe sit with a water hose running in his hands for hours. So pulling in to a marina to fill up water tanks and wash the boat feels less like a chore than it used to. And as for the solar and refrigeration, we're finding that running the engine to charge the batteries and run the fridge isn't really all that awful.
I'm sure as the kids continue to grow up and we set our sights further afield again all of this will change, but for now, the boat, as is, is going to do just fine.
Of course I say this and minutes later discover that the AC refrigeration system isn't working. I checked the sight glass and could see there was no coolant running through it, and also felt the lines to find nothing but heat. Okay I thought, I can fix this. I'll just recharge it with some of the extra coolant I bought and then see if I can find a leak.
After emptying two cans of coolant into the system a thought struck me. This system is R-12, not R-134. I'd just dumped the wrong coolant into the system. Not good. I'd effectively put an end to any hope of shore power refrigeration for the forseeable future. (It can be fixed, we just don't have the tools, the refrigerant, or the time and energy to go out and get them.) Crap. I swear I should have just bought one of those thousand dollar 12V coolers and shoved it in a corner somewhere. This refrigerator of ours has been a string of headaches lately. Maybe we'll be getting the DC system to replace the AC system after all.